Hongdu Aviation is close to confirming further orders for its K-8 intermediate jet trainer, with industry sources saying an Asian country is about to ink a deal for 12 aircraft.

The order could later be expanded to up to 60 aircraft, with the buyer potentially agreeing a deal to assemble the K-8 in-country, according to a source from Hongdu's parent company, state-owned aerospace conglomerate AVIC, during the Aviation Expo China 2009 in Beijing. The aircraft will be used for both pilot training and light attack applications.

Hongdu and AVIC have been promoting the K-8 to Indonesia and the Philippines over the past few years, although the source would not confirm whether the expected new customer was one of those countries.

Hongdu K-8
 © Sipa Press/Rex Features

Jakarta has been keen to secure more military deals that involve work for state-owned Indonesian Aerospace, which also assembles Eurocopter helicopters and the Airbus Military CN-235. The country has also been looking to replace its air force's older BAE Systems Hawks.

Hongdu and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex jointly developed the single-engine K-8 in the early 1990s, although the Chinese company was responsible for manufacturing the aircraft. China has about 300 K-8s in service, and Pakistan has bought 40 so far.

More than 200 K-8s have also been sold internationally, with customers including Myanmar, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Egypt has licence-produced more than 80 K-8s, and Venezuela ordered 24 last year.

Hongdu is also seeking export orders for its L-15 advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft, and is especially promoting the aircraft in Africa, the Middle East and South America. The company has manufactured five test aircraft, but industry sources say it is still trying to win an order from the Chinese air force and navy.

The AVIC source says the L-15 is likely to be on flying and static display at the Dubai air show in November as part of the company's marketing efforts in the region.

Source: Flight International