The Venezuelan Air Force has taken delivery of the first six K-8 Karakorum trainer aircraft from China.

Another 12 are still outstanding, on a contract which includes control systems and maintenance, to replace Venezuela’s aging fighter fleet.

China will deliver three K-8 aircraft in 2010, as part of an agreement signed between the Chinese and Venezuelan Governments in 2008, according to Agence France.

The two-seater aircraft, a joint development of China and Pakistan, is equipped with machine guns and light bombs to support ground operations and can reach altitudes of 40,000ft.

Venezuela will modernise and replace its aging fleet of combat aircraft, which is largely based on US Technology, following the K-8 acquisition.

President Hugo Chavez recently said because Venezuela was being transformed into an economic, social, moral and technological power, the country required the ability to defend itself.