It appears the Angolan Air Force will be receiving an unknown number of K-8 Karakorum trainer and light attack aircraft from China, after one of the jets was seen in Angolan markings.
A photo has appeared on Chinese social media showing Luo Ronghuai, president of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), inspecting a Hongdu facility. A single K-8 jet with the Angolan Air Force (FANA) roundel on its tail could be seen in the background.
The aircraft had a cover over its cockpit and the leading edge of its tail had been removed, indicating it was either still under construction or getting ready to be shipped.
It is not clear how many K-8s Angola has ordered or when the order was placed. Angola has not acquired much equipment in the past from China, instead relying on Russia. However, in 2017 it emerged that the Angolan Army was using WMA301 tank destroyers and command post variants of the Norinco WZ551 armoured personnel carrier.
Angola has been receiving vast amounts of new military hardware, including Mi-171Sh armed helicopters and Mi-24/35 attack helicopters from Russia and refurbished Su-30K Flankers from Belarus. It has also received AW109 and AW139 helicopters from Italy and is expecting three C295 maritime patrol aircraft from Airbus.
Hongdu has already sold a number of K-8s to African countries, including Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sudan, Ghana, Egypt, and Namibia. In fact, most exports of the low-cost aircraft have been to Africa.
The K-8 was designed in China by the China Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation, but the primary contractor is the Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation. It is also produced by Pakistan’s Pakistan Aeronautical Complex.
The K-8 has a top speed of 800 km/h and is powered by a Ukrainian AI-25TLK turbofan or a Chinese WS-11 (an AI-25TLK clone) developing 1 680 kg of thrust. However, some export models are powered by the TFE731-2A turbofan developing 1 600 kg of thrust.
Maximum takeoff weight is 4 470 kg and maximum range 2 200 km. Export versions are usually better equipped than the models in service with China (JL-8), and feature components such as Martin Baker ejection seats, a glass cockpit with head up display and multi-function displays and ability to carry PL-5E/PL-7 air-to-air missiles and a 23 mm gun pod.