CARACAS – Venezuela will purchase from China between 10 and 12 medium-range Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft, after taking delivery in recent weeks of 18 K-8 training aircraft previously acquired in the Asian country, a senior military official said.
“These Y-8s will provide support for the operations of our C-130 Hercules transport planes...that have a range covering South America and to the north of Spain,” Maj. Gen. Jorge Oropeza said Friday.
He said that negotiations for the purchase of the Y-8s are in the hands of the Defense Ministry and it is hoped that these aircraft will be delivered to Venezuela sometime next year.
The Y-8 is a medium-size, mid-range transport aircraft with a capacity for carrying 88 passengers and 20 tons of cargo during 7.3 hours of autonomous, uninterrupted flight, Oropeza told the state-run ABN news agency.
Oropeza said that the 18 K-8s “will be on view tomorrow at the main ceremony of the 90th anniversary of the (Venezuelan military aviation),” along with the JL11 radars that were also purchased from the Asian giant earlier in 2010.
The defense minister, Gen. Carlos Mata, also told ABN that since President Hugo Chavez came to power in February 1999, Venezuelan military aviation “has made technological progress in terms of the defense of air space, being equipped with new aircraft and the modernization of this branch of the military.”
“Notable among the achievements of this military branch is its technological development and the acquisition of new aircraft and equipment,” he said.
About the cost of recent military purchases, the socialist head of state said at midyear that he had approved the spending of $82 million “to make a partial payment” for the 18 K-8 aircraft.
“This is an aircraft for basic training able to employ armament including light bombs, rockets and machine guns, while fulfilling all the requirements for training pilots,” air force commander Gen. Luis Berroteran said in October 2008.
The Venezuelan government recently purchased from Russia 24 Sukoi fighters, 50 MI helicopters and 100,000 AK-103 rifles, for some $3 billion, according to Russian sources.