Royal Thai Air Force

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Royal Thai Air Force
กองทัพอากาศไทย
(RTGS: Kong Thab Akat Thai)
Royal Thai Air Force Seal.svg
Emblem of the Royal Thai Air Force
Founded 2 November 1913 (102 year)
Country  Thailand
Type Air Force
Size 45,000 Active personnel
58 Training aircraft
158 Fighters
10 Reconnaissance aircraft
22 Transport Aircraft
33 Helicopters
Part of Royal Thai Armed Forces
HQ Don Muang Air Base, Bangkok
March มาร์ชกองทัพอากาศ
(Royal Thai Air Force March)
Anniversaries 9 April 1937
Engagements World War I
Franco-Thai War
World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Commanders
Commander-in-Chief Air Chief Marshal Trithot Sonchaeng
Insignia
Royal Thai Air Force Flag
Royal Thai Air Force Flag.svg
Unit Colour
Royal Thai Air Force Unit Colour.svg
Roundel
Roundel of the Royal Thai Air Force.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack L-39, Alpha Jet, AU-23
Fighter Gripen, F-16, F-5
Helicopter UH-1, Bell 412, S-92, Eurocopter EC725
Reconnaissance Lear 35A, Arava, Saab 340 AEW&C
Trainer Airtrainer, PC-9, DA42
Transport C-130, BT-67, Nomad, ATR-72, 737-400/800, A319, A310

The Royal Thai Air Force or RTAF (Thai: กองทัพอากาศไทย, RTGS: Kong Thab Akat Thai) is the air force of the Kingdom of Thailand. Since its establishment in 1913 as one of the earliest air forces of Asia, the Royal Thai Air Force had engaged in numerous major and minor battles. During the Vietnam War era, the air force was supplied with USAF-aid equipment.

History[edit]

In February 1911 the Belgian pilot Charles Van Den Born displayed the first aircraft in Siam at the Sa Pathum Horse Racing Course. The Siamese authorities were impressed enough that on 28 February 1912 they dispatched three officers to learn to fly in France, the main center of aviation development of the time. After learning to fly, the three officers returned to Siam in November 1913 with eight aircraft (four Breguets and four Nieuport IVs). In March of the next year they moved from Sa Pathum airfield to Don Muang.

The Ministry of Defence put the Siamese Flying Corps under the control of the Army Engineer Inspector General Department. Prince Purachatra, Commander of the Army Engineers, and his brother Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath were instrumental in the development of the army's Royal Siamese Aeronautical Service to which it was renamed in 1919. In 1937, the service was again renamed when it became an independent service, as the Royal Siamese Air Force but the takeover of the country by the Thai ethnic group meant that name would only be used until 1939, when it became the Royal Thai Air Force.

During the French-Thai War, the Thai Air Force scored several air-to-air-victories against the Vichy Armée de l'Air. During World War II the Thai Air Force supported the Royal Thai Army in its occupation of the Burmese Shan States as allies of the Japanese in 1942 and defended Bangkok from allied air raids during the latter part of the war. Some RTAF personnel assisted the resistance against the Japanese. After World War II, the Thai Air Force sent three C-47s to support the United Nations in Korean War. The victorious Wings Unit, operating the C-47, also joined the US Forces in the Vietnam War. Along the border, the Thai Air Force launched many operations against communist forces, such as Ban Nam Ta Airfield Raid in Laos, and clashes occurred between Thai and Vietnamese troops along the Thai-Cambodian border. When the Cold War ended, the Thai Air Force participated in Operation Border Post 9631 along the Thai-Burmese border in 1999, and launched the evacuation of foreigners during the 2003 Phnom Penh riots in Cambodia.

Command and control[edit]

The Royal Thai Air Force is commanded by the Commander of the Royal Thai Air Force (ผู้บัญชาการทหารอากาศไทย) currently Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jantong, who was appointed in 2012.[1] The Royal Thai Air Force Headquarters is located in Don Muang Airbase, Bangkok, Thailand.

  • Commander-in-Chief: Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jantong
  • Deputy Commander-in-Chief: Air Chief Marshal Permkiat Lavanaman
  • Assistant Commander-in-Chief: Air Chief Marshal Songtham Chokkanapitak
  • Assistant Commander-in-Chief: Air Chief Marshal Chanat Rattanaubol
  • Chief of Staff of the Air Force: Air Chief Marshal Araya Ngampramual

List of Commanders[edit]

Rank and insignia[edit]

Organization[edit]

Regimental colours guard of Thai air cadet, RTAF, in full dress (royal Guard)
RTAF Fighter Jets

The RTAF command structure consists of five groups: headquarters, logistics support, education, special services, and combat forces.

  1. The headquarters group in Bangkok performs the usual general staff functions, including planning and directing operations of the combat elements.
  2. Combat Group.
  3. The support group provides engineering, communications, ordnance, transportation, quartermaster, and medical services support.
  4. The education group coordinates and supervises all air force training programmes.
  5. The special service group is responsible for the welfare of air force personnel and coordinates the activities of Thai civil aviation with those of the air force.

Bases[edit]

The Royal Thai Air Force maintains a number of modern bases which were constructed between 1954 and 1968, have permanent buildings and ground support equipment.

All but one were built and used by United States forces until their withdrawal from Thailand in 1976 when Thai air force assumed use of the installations at Takhli and Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat). In the late 1980s, these bases and Don Muang Air Base outside Bangkok, which the air force shares with civil aviation, remain the primary operational installations.

Maintenance of base facilities abandoned by the United States proved costly and exceeded Thai needs. Nonetheless, all runways were still available for training and emergency use.

By 2004 the Royal Thai Air Force had its main base at Don Muang airport, adjacent to Don Mueang International Airport. The RTAF also had large air fields and facilities at Nakon Ratchasima Ubon Ratchathani, and Takhli.

Squadrons[edit]

The following squadrons are currently active with the Royal Thai Air Force.

Squadron Photo Equipment Wing RTAF Base Notes
102 Fighter Sqn
A Royal Thai Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducts tactical flight operations during Cope Tiger 13 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 12, 2013 130312-F-ZZ999-424.jpg
F-16A/B ADF Wing 1 Korat
103 Fighter Sqn
F16A FAP linksup KC-10.jpg
F-16A/B Wing 1 Korat
201 Helicopter Sqn
Rtaf bell412 sikorskyS92.jpg
Bell 412, S-92 Wing 2 Khok Ka Thiem Royal Guard
203 Helicopter Sqn
Rtaf uh-1h csar.jpg
UH-1H Wing 2 Khok Ka Thiem SAR detachments at many locations.
401 Light Attack Sqn L-39 Wing 4 Takhli
402 Elint Sqn
Gates Learjet 35A AN0385420.jpg
Arava Hatzerim 050804.jpg
Learjet 35, IAI Arava Wing 4 Takhli
403 Fighter Sqn
A Royal Thai Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducts tactical flight operations during Cope Tiger 13 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 12, 2013 130312-F-ZZ999-424.jpg
F-16AM/BM Wing 4 Takhli To be upgraded.
501 Light Attack Sqn Fairchild AU-23 Peacemaker Wing 5 Prachuap Khiri Khan Province
601 Transport Sqn
Royal Thai Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules (L-382).jpg
C-130H/H-30 Wing 6 Don Muang
602 Royal Flight Sqn
RTAF A319.JPG
A310, A319, A320, B737 Wing 6 Don Muang Royal Guard
603 Transport Squadron
RTAF ATR72.jpg
ATR72 Wing 6 Don Muang
604 Civil Pilot Training Sqn
New Zealand CT-4A Airtrainer inflight Vabre.jpg
Peruvian Air Force Cessna T-41D (R172) SDLP-1.jpg
PAC CT-4A, T-41D Wing 6 Don Muang
701 Fighter Sqn
RTAF Jas 39 Gripen.jpg
JAS-39 Gripen Wing 7 Surat Thani Total 12 Gripens delivered on 2011 and 2013,[2] replacing F-5E/F.[1]

There are plans to purchase 6 additional Gripen fighters.[3]

702 Sqn
Rtafsaab340aew.jpg
Saab 340, S-100B Argus Wing 7 Surat Thani Saab 340 70201 and S-100B Argus AEW 70202[3]
211 Fighter Sqn
F-5E Royal Thai AF at Korat 2000.JPEG
F-5T Tigris Wing 21 Ubon
231 Attack Sqn
RTAF Alphajet.JPG
Alpha Jet Wing 23 Udorn
411 Fighter Sqn
RTAF L39.JPG
L-39 Wing 41 Chiang Mai
461 Transport Sqn
RTAF Basler BT-67.JPG
TNI-AL GAF N-22B Nomad Wallner.jpg
GAF Nomad, Basler BT-67 Wing 46 Phitsanulok Also conducts rainmaking flights.
561 Fighter Sqns - - Wing 56 Hat Yai Forward operating base for 701 Fighter Sqn.
904 Aggressor Sqn
F-5E Royal Thai AF at Korat 2000.JPEG
F-5E - Don Muang Former unit of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn Mahidol.
Tango Sqn - - - Chiang Mai Historical aircraft unit, not controlled by the RTAF.
1st Flying Training Sqn - PAC CT/4E Flying Training School Kamphang Saen Primary flight training.
2nd Flying Training Sqn
RTAF PC9.JPG
Pilatus PC-9M Flying Training School Kamphang Saen Basic flight training.
3rd Flying Training Sqn - Bell 206B (withdrawn 2006) Flying Training School Kamphang Saen Helicopter training.

Royal Thai Air Force Commando Company[edit]

RTAF Blue Phoenix Air Show at Don Muang, Bangkok, 2012

This 100 man unit, part of the Royal Thai Air Force's Special Combat Operations Squadron, was formed in the late 1970s and are based near Don Muang Airport and provide anti-hijacking capabilities. They have three assault platoons, each divided into two sections.

Wings[edit]

Royal Thai Air Force frontline fighter, Saab JAS 39 Gripen
Royal Thai Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducts tactical flight operations during Cope Tiger 13 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base.
SAAB 340/AEW of the Royal Thai Air Force.

The Royal Thai Air Force Combat Group is divided into 11 wings plus a training school, plus a few direct-reporting units.

  • Directorate of Air Operations Control, RTAF
  • RTAF Security Force Command
  • Flying Training School
composed of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Flying Training Squadrons. Based at RTAFB Kamphang Saen in Nakhon Pathom Province
  • Wing 1
Interceptor and fighter wing based at RTAFB Korat in Nakhon Ratchasima Province.
  • Wing 2
Helicopter wing providing utility/transport and search and rescue. Normally based at RTAFB Lop Buri in Lop Buri Province
  • Wing 4
Light attack / Interceptor wing based at RTAFB Takhli in Nakhon Sawan Province.
  • Wing 5
Transport and special mission wing based at RTAFB Prachuap Khiri Khan in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
  • Wing 6
Multi-role non-combat wing providing transport, mapping, communications and surveying. Based at RTAFB Don Muang/Bangkok.
  • Wing 7
Interceptor and fighter wing based at RTAFB Surat Thani in Surat Thani Province.
  • Wing 21
Fighter and attack wing based at RTAFB Ubon Ratchathani in Ubon Ratchathani Province.
  • Wing 23
Light attack wing based at RTAFB Udon in Udon Thani Province.
  • Wing 41
Light attack wing based at RTAFB Chiang Mai in Chiang Mai Province.
  • Wing 46
Transport/rainmaking wing based at RTAFB Phitsanulok in Phitsanulok Province.
  • Wing 56
Frontal operating base at RTAFB Hatyai in Songkhla Province.

Current aircraft[edit]

Photo Designation Aircraft Origin Role In service Orders Notes
Trainers
RTAF PC9.JPG
B.F19 Pilatus PC-9M   Switzerland advanced trainer 22 n/a Avionics upgraded locally
L-39 rtaf analayo.jpg
B.KhF1 Aero L-39ZA/ART  Czech Republic strike/trainer 36[2] n/a Westernized Aero L-39, with Israeli avionics and AIM-9. Some will be replaced with the new Lead-in fighter training procurement programme.[4][5]
OH-DAC Tour de Sky Oulu 20140810 02.JPG
B.F20/B.TF20 Diamond DA42  Austria advanced trainer 6 n/a [6]
Combat Aircraft
Saab JAS39C Gripen 70109 Thai AF (7363327062).jpg
B.Kh20 Saab JAS 39C/D Gripen  Sweden multirole fighter 12[2] n/a 12 delivered from 2011.[7] 8 Gripen C and 4 Gripen D.[2]
A Royal Thai Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducts tactical flight operations during Cope Tiger 13 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 12, 2013 130312-F-ZZ999-424.jpg
B.Kh19 General Dynamics F-16A/B Block 15OCU/ADF/MLU  United States multirole fighter 55[2] n/a 28 F-16A, 14 F-16B, 13 F-16A ADF and 1 F-16B ADF.[2] 18 F 16 A/B undergoing MLU program and will be upgrade to the Block 52+ standard[8][8][9]
F-5E Royal Thai AF at Korat 2000.JPEG
B.Kh18 Northrop F-5T/E  United States fighter-bomber 27[2] n/a 16 F-5T and 11 F-5E in service. F-5T were upgraded to be armed with Python-4 integrated with the Elbit Systems DASH (Display And Sight Helmet) HMS system.
Alphajet rtaf analayo.jpg
B.J7 Dornier Alpha Jet A  Germany strike 19[2] n/a Ex-Luftwaffe. 5 spares. 1 lost. RTAF fitted AIM-9P/M.
Surveillance/Reconnaissance/AEW
Rtafsaab340aew.jpg
B.K1 Saab 340 S-100B Argus  Sweden AEW 2[2] n/a 1st Argus received 2011 and 2nd 2012. Erieye radar.[10]
Gates Learjet 35A AN0385420.jpg B.TL12 Learjet 35A  United States Photographic reconnaissance 1 n/a
Fairchild AU-23A Peacemaker in flight.jpg B.F20/B.TF20 AU-23A  United States Photographic reconnaissance 16 n/a
TNI-AL GAF N-22B Nomad Wallner.jpg B.L9 GAF N.22B Nomad  Australia Photographic reconnaissance 3 n/a 2 had service-life extension by TAI.
OH-DAC Tour de Sky Oulu 20140810 02.JPG
B.F20/B.TF20 DA42 MPP  Austria Reconnaissance 5[2] n/a
Aerostar.jpg
n/a ADS Aerostar  Israel UAV 6 n/a
Transports
Royal Thai Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules (L-382).jpg
B.L8 Lockheed C-130H-30  United States tactical transport 12[2] n/a Undergoing MLU by Rockwell Collins and TAI [11]
RTAF Basler BT-67.JPG
B.L2k Basler BT-67  United States tactical transport 8[2] n/a Turbine C-47.firefighting/seeding. 1 lost Aug 2006.
Rtafsaab340aew.jpg
B.L17 Saab 340  Sweden utility transport 2[2] n/a 1 to 702Sqn 2010. 3 grounded G.222 traded for 2nd 2012.[12]
TNI-AL GAF N-22B Nomad Wallner.jpg B.L9 GAF N.22B Nomad  Australia utility transport 19 n/a
B.L11/11k/11Kh Boeing 737-8Z6  United States VIP transport 1 n/a
B.L11/11k/11Kh Boeing 737-4Z6  United States VIP transport 1 n/a
B.L13 Airbus A310-324  EU VIP transport 1 n/a Mainly for senior military officers.
RTAF A319.JPG B.L15 Airbus A319-115X CJ  EU VIP transport 1 1 Mainly for senior government officers. 1 Order A320 in 2013.
Helicopters
Caracal2552.jpg
B.H11 Eurocopter EC725  EU utility/CSAR 0(+4) 4[13] 16 Plans.[14]
Rtaf uh-1h csar.jpg
B.H6 Bell UH-1H Iroquois/Huey  United States utility/CSAR 18[2] n/a To be replaced by EC725.
Royal Thai Air Force helicopters.JPG
B.H6Kh/6Kh2/6Ng Bell 412EP/SP  Canada VIP transport 8[2] n/a 2 Bell 412, 6 Bell 412EP.

Weaponry[edit]

Service[edit]

Type Country of Origin Role Quantity Note
Air-to-air missiles
IRIS-T  Germany SRAAM 40+ on JAS-39 C/D.
Meteor (missile)  Germany BVRAAM ? on JAS-39 C/D (future).
AIM-9P-3/P-4/M-9 Sidewinder  United States SRAAM 550+ on F-5 E/F/T, F-16 A/B/ADF/MLU, JAS-39 C/D, ALPHAJET A, L-39 ZA/ART.
AIM-120C5/C7 AMRAAM  United States BVRAAM 100+ on F-16 ADF/MLU, JAS-39 C/D. C7 Delivered.
Python-4  Israel AAM 50+ on F-5 T.
Air-to-Surface Missiles/Rockets/Bombs
GBU-10F/B, -12E/B,-22 Paveway II  United States Laser-Guided Bomb ? on F-5 E/F/T, F-16 A/B/ADF/MLU, JAS-39 C/D
GBU-31(V)1/B JDAM  United States GPS/INS Guided Bomb ? JAS-39 C/D(future), F-16 MLU(future).
GBU-38/B JDAM  United States GPS/INS Guided Bomb ? JAS-39 C/D(future), F-16 MLU(future).
Mk 81/Mk82/Mk84  United States 250/500/2000 pound general purpose bombs ? on F-5 E/F/T, F-16 A/B/ADF/MLU, JAS-39 C/D, ALPHAJET A, L-39 ZA/ART.
BLU-10A/B,-23/B,-32B/C,-27/B  United States Napalm Bomb ? on F-5 E/F/T, F-16 A/B/ADF/MLU, JAS-39 C/D, ALPHAJET A, L-39 ZA/ART.
CBU-59/B,-71A/B  United States Cluster Bomb ? on F-5 E/F/T, F-16 A/B/ADF/MLU, JAS-39 C/D, ALPHAJET A, L-39 ZA/ART.
AGM-65D/G/G-2 Maverick  United States Air-to-Ground Missile 300+ on F-16 A/B/ADF/MLU, JAS-39 C/D.
RBS-15F Mk.2  Sweden (200 kg) Anti-ship missile 12 on JAS-39 C/D.
CRV-7  Canada 2.75inch rocket ? on F-5 E/F/T, F-16 A/B/ADF/MLU, JAS-39 C/D, ALPHAJET A, L-39 ZA/ART.
Mk.40  United States 2.75inch rocket ? on F-5 E/F/T, F-16 A/B/ADF/MLU, JAS-39 C/D, ALPHAJET A, L-39 ZA/ART.
GPU-5/A  United States 30mm gun pod ? on F-5 E/F/T. Podded version of GAU-8 Avenger.
Surface to air defence systems
Oerlikon ADATS   Switzerland laser-guided supersonic missile 4 Fixed emplacement/semi-mobile
Saab Bofors Dynamics RBS 70 Mk.2  Sweden Man-portable air-defence system (MANPAD) ?
QW-2 Vanguard II  China Man-portable air-defence system (MANPAD) ?
Rheinmetall Mauser Mk.30 mod.F  Germany Twin 30mm Anti Aircraft Artillery 8
Bofors 40mm L/70  Sweden 40mm Anti Aircraft Artillery ?
Type 74  China Twin 37mm Anti Aircraft Artillery ?
Air Search Radar, Weather Radar
Lockheed Martin AN/FPS-117  United States Long Range 3D Air Search Radar 2 RTADS I.
Alenia Marconi Systems Martello-743D  United Kingdom Long Range 3D Air Search Radar 4 RTADS l/ll.
Northrop Grumman AN/FPS-130X  United States Long Range 3D Air Search Radar 3 RTADS lll.
Northrop Grumman AN/TPS-78  United States Long Range 3D Air Search Radar 3 RTADS ll.[15]
Lockheed Martin AN/TPS-79  United States Long Range 3D Air Search Radar 1 RTADS ll.
Siemens DR-162 ADV  United States Short Range 2D Air Search Radar ?
Northrop Grumman AN/TPS-703  United States Mobile Long Range 3D Air Search Radar 3
Ericsson Giraffe-180/40  Sweden Mobile Medium Range 2D Air Search Radar 2+/2
Toshiba-ASR  Japan Airport Surviellance Radar ?
Enterprise Electronics DWSR-88C  United States Weather Radar ?
Enterprise Electronics TVDR-3501C  United States Weather Radar ?
Enterprise Electronics TVDR-2500C  United States Mobile Weather Radar ?
KRONOS Radar Systems  Italy Air Search Radar ?
Avia Satcom C2ADS  Thailand Air Search Radar ?
Ground Weaponry
Cadillac Gage V150 Commando  United States 4x4 armored car 12 With 12.7mm and 7.62mm MG
Rheinmetall Condor  Germany 4x4 armored car 18 With 20mm and 7.62mm MG

Future[edit]

Purchase Programme[edit]

Development[edit]

  • Under the Air-to-air missile by Defense Technology Institute.[citation needed]
  • Under the Cruise missile ground attack and anti-ship plan by Defense Technology Institute.[citation needed]
  • Under the Man-portable air-defense systems plan by Defense Technology Institute.[citation needed]
  • Under the Anti-tank guided missile plan by Defense Technology Institute.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
Comments
Bibliography
  • Wieliczko, Leszek A. and Zygmunt Szeremeta. Nakajima Ki 27 Nate (bilingual Polish/English). Lublin, Poland: Kagero, 2004. ISBN 83-89088-51-7.

External links[edit]