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K-8 Karakorum CNAMC / PAC
K-8 Karakorum
Trainer and
Light Attack Fighter

The K-8 Karakorum is a joint venture between the China Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CNAMC) and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) to develop a basic jet trainer with light attack capabilities. Originally identified as the Nanchang L-8 or Hongdu JL-8, the plane is best known by its export name K-8 Karakorum. Karakorum is the mountain range straddling the Chinese-Pakistani border. Although primarily a trainer, the K-8 can be used as a light attack aircraft with its single 23-mm gun and four underwing pylons carrying up to 500 lb (250 kg) each.

Full-scale development began in 1987 with original plans calling for dual production in China and Pakistan. The K-8 was also to include a significant number of American technologies such as a Garrett turbofan engine and avionics from Collins and Magnavox. However, US restrictions placed on China in 1989 nearly cancelled the project. Nonetheless, both countries decided to proceed after settling on a conventional straight-wing tandem-seat layout powered by a single engine.

Depite initial plans, all K-8 production was centralized in China after Pakistan decided against a separate assembly line. CNAMC is the prime contractor although PAC does produce the fin, tailplane, and other components accounting for about 25% of the airframe. Export customer Egypt has also license-built the design.

Initial development efforts focused on the construction and testing of three flying prototypes and a static trials aircraft, all delivered between 1990 and 1992. A flight test program ensued and was completed during 1993. Work then began on a pre-production batch of six aircraft for each nation. Current Chinese procurement appears to be about 300, and Pakistan has ordered 75. Several export customers in Asia, Africa, and South America have also ordered the Karakorum.

Last modified 17 March 2012

First Flight (prototype) 21 November 1990
(pre-production) 1993
Service Entry


CREW: two: pilot, instructor or weapon officer



Wing Root unknown
Wing Tip


Length 38.06 ft (11.60 m) with nose probe
Wingspan 31.60 ft (9.63 m)
Height 13.81 ft (4.21 m)
Wing Area 183.2 ft² (17.02 m²)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty 5,925 lb (2,685 kg)
Normal Takeoff unknown
Max Takeoff (clean) 8,005 lb (3,630 kg)
(with stores) 9,545 lb (4,330 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 1,720 lb (780 kg)
external: 860 lb (390 kg)
Max Payload

2,095 lb (950 kg)

Powerplant one Garrett TFE31-2A-2A turbofan
Thrust 3,600 lb (16.01 kN)

Max Level Speed at altitude: 590 mph (950 km/h)
at sea level: 495 mph (800 km/h)
Initial Climb Rate 5,315 ft (1,620 m) / min
Service Ceiling 42,650 ft (13,000 m)
Range typical: 755 nm (1,400 km)
ferry: 1,215 nm (2,250 km)
Endurance 4 hr 25 min
g-Limits +7.33 / -3

Gun one 23-mm gun pack carried on the centerline
Stations four external hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile PL-7
Air-to-Surface Missile unknown
Bomb various
Other rocket pods

K-8 Production two-seat combat-capable light attack jet trainer for Pakistan and export customers
JL-8 Production model for China with a domestic engine and avionics; approximately 200 built
K-8E Light attack trainer model license built in Egypt; 120 to be built
K-8P K-8 model with improved avionics and glass cockpit displays built for Pakistan
K-8 TDA or K-8V Technical Demonstration Aircraft used for research and modified with a fly-by-wire control system, aft seat was replaced by test equipment
L-11 Upgraded variant of the JL-8 with a WS-11 Chinese license-built copy of the AI-25 TLK turbofan for the Chinese air force; 100 to be built




Bolivia, Fuerza Aérea Boliviana (Bolivian Air Force) - 6
China, Zhongkuo Shenmin Taifang Tsunputai (People's Liberation Army Air Force) - 300
Egypt, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya il Misriya (Egyptian Air Force) - 120
Ghana (Ghana Air Force) - 4
Morocco, Al Quwwat al Jawiyya al Malakiya Marakishiya (Royal Moroccan Air Force) - 20
Myanmar, Tamdaw Lay (Myanmar Armed Forces) - 12
Namibia (Namibia Defense Force) - 12
Pakistan, Pakistan Fiza'ya (Pakistani Air Force) - 40
Sri Lanka (Sri Lankan National Air Force) - 6
Sudan, Silakh al Jawwiya As'Sudaniya (Sudanese Air Force) - 12
Tanzania, Jeshi la Anga la Wananchi wa Tanzania (Tanzanian People's Defense Force Air Wing) - 6
Venezuela, Fuerza Aérea Venezolana (Venezuelan Air Force) - 24
Zambia (Zambian Air Force and Air Defense Command) - 8
Zimbabwe (Air Force of Zimbabwe) - 12

  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 391-392.
  • Rendall, David. Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide, 2nd ed. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999, p. 128.

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