April 8, 2010: China has again given Bolivia a gift of military equipment. This time it's 37 buses, 21 vans and 50 outboard motors, altogether worth $2.6 million. Last year, China donated two patrol boats. In 2007, the donation consisted of 34 trucks, five buses and three vans. All this is being done to insure Chinese firms have an advantage in selling military equipment to Bolivia, and gaining access to Bolivian raw materials.
To that end, Bolivia has agreed to buy a space satellite from China, and negotiations are under way for the purchase of Chinese weapons. Last year, Bolivia bought six K-8 jet trainers from Pakistan, for $9.7 million each, to use for anti-drug operations. Actually, the aircraft is a joint Pakistan-China development project. But until recently, all of them were produced in China. Pakistan and Egypt assemble the K-8 under license, and China has exported the aircraft to several other countries. About 500 K-8s have been built so far.
The K-8 (also called JL-8) is a 4.3 ton, two seat, jet trainer. It uses American, Chinese or Ukrainian engines. The K8 has a cruising speed of 800 kilometers an hour, endurance of four hours and it can carry a 23mm cannon in a bomb like pod, and half a ton of bombs, rockets or missiles. This gives the aircraft combat capability, at least against a foe with few anti-aircraft weapons. Electronics on the JL-8 are minimal, as it's basically a two seat trainer, to prepare fighter pilots before they climb into anything from a MiG-21 to an F-16.