The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) (Thai: กองทัพอากาศไทย; RTGS: Kong Thap 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 has engaged in numerous major and minor conflicts. During the Vietnam War era, the RTAF was supplied with USAF-aid equipment.
A French pilot performed a flying demonstration over Bangkok in January 1911, greatly impressing Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, brother of King Vajiravudh, and he even accepted an invitation for a flight. Chakrabongse sent three army officers to France, who began flight training at Vélizy-Villacoublay in July 1912. The officers became qualified aviators a year later. In late 1913, the three new aviators returned home after arranging for the purchase of four Nieuport monoplanes and a Bréguet biplane. The aviation section put on a demonstration in January 1914, gaining the support of the King and a permanent aviation group was established and an air base at Don Muang was assigned, as the Royal Aeronautical Service, under Army control.
Siam entered World War I with the Allies in July 1917, and a Siamese Expeditionary Force of around 1,200 men was sent to France, arriving in June 1918. Among them were 370 pilots and groundcrew, including more than 100 officers who were sent to flight school first at Istres and Avord, and then at Istres, Le Crotoy, La Chapelle-la-Reine, Biscarosse and Piox. Eventually, The 95 pilots who qualified as military aviators flew a few operational sorties in the closing weeks of the war but suffered no casualties, nor scored any kills. Their training did mean that Siam entered the post-World War I period with one of the best equipped and trained air forces in Asia.
In the 1930s the Royal Aeronautical Service began to replace French aircraft with American designs, purchasing more than 95 aircraft, including the Boeing P-12E, Curtiss Hawks, and Vought Corsairs. The air force was formally separated into its own branch, the Royal Siamese Air Force, in April 1937 and five operational wings were established. In 1939, when Siam became Thailand, the service was renamed the Royal Thai Air Force. At the end of 1940, the RTAF once again saw combat, this time in the Franco-Thai War, a border conflict against French Indochina. The RTAF operated in the Mekong Delta, attacking ground forces and gunboats and defending against French bombing raids, until a ceasefire was arranged in January 1941. Later that year, on 7 December, Thailand was invaded by Japan. The RTAF took an active role in the resistance. Combat Wings 1 and 5 engaged significantly more advanced Japanese aircraft over Thailand's eastern border, but suffered heavy losses, including almost 30 percent of Wing 5, before a cease-fire took effect the following day.
The RTAF consists of headquarters and five groups: command, combat, support, education and training, and special services.
- Royal Flight Aircraft Administrative Center
- Royal Flight Helicopter Administrative Center
- Air Warfare Center
- Office of Public Sector Development, RTAF
- Office of Intellectual Development, RTAF
- RTAF Secretariat
- Directorate of Administrative Service
- Directorate of Personnel
- Directorate of Intelligence
- Directorate of Operations
- Directorate of Logistics
- Directorate of Civil Affairs
- Directorate of Information and Communications Technology
- Office of the RTAF Comptroller
- Directorate of Finance
- Directorate of Inspector General
- Office of RTAF Internal Audit
- Office of RTAF Safety
- Office of RTAF Judge Advocate
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|
|Security Force Command|
|Space Operation Center|
|Royal Thai Air Force Academy||Training|
|Flying Training School||Training||Nakhon Pathom||Kamphang Saen||Composed of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Flying Training Squadrons|
|Wing 1||Interceptor/fighter||Nakhon Ratchasima||Korat|
|Wing 2||Helicopter transport/SAR||Lopburi||Khok Kathiam|
|Wing 3||Unmanned aerial vehicle||Sa Kaeo||Watthana Nakhon|
|Wing 4||Light attack/interceptor||Nakhon Sawan||Takhli|
|Wing 5||Transport/special mission||Prachuap Khiri Khan||Prachuap Khiri Khan|
|Wing 6||Non-combat multi-role||Bangkok||Don Muang||Provides transport, mapping, communications, surveying|
|Wing 7||Interceptor/fighter||Surat Thani||Surat Thani||Nicknamed "Ferocious Shark of the Andaman" and "House of Gripen" as they fly Gripen aircraft.|
|Wing 21||Interceptor||Ubon Ratchathani||Ubon Ratchathani|
|Wing 23||Attack||Udon Thani||Udon|
|Wing 41||Light attack||Chiang Mai||Chiang Mai|
|Wing 56||Forward operating base||Songkhla||Hat Yai|
The following squadrons are currently active with the Royal Thai Air Force.
|101st Fighter Squadron||-||Wing 1||Korat||To be replaced by F-35A|
|102nd Fighter Squadron||F16A/B Block 15 ADF||Wing 1||Korat|
|103rd Fighter Squadron||F-16A/B Block 15 OCU||Wing 1||Korat|
|201 Helicopter Squadron||S-70i, S-92||Wing 2||Khok Ka Thiam||Former Royal Guard|
|202 Helicopter Squadron||Bell 412/SP/HP/EP||Wing 2||Khok Ka Thiam|
|203 Helicopter Squadron||EC 725||Wing 2||Khok Ka Thiam||SAR detachments at many locations.|
UH-1H replaced by EC 725
|301 UAV Squadron||Aerostar BP, RTAF U-1||Wing 3||Watthana Nakhon|
|302 UAV Squadron||Aerostar BP, RTAF U-1||Wing 3||Watthana Nakhon|
|303 UAV Squadron||Aerostar BP, RTAF U-1||Wing 3||Watthana Nakhon|
|401 Light Attack Squadron||T-50TH||Wing 4||Takhli|
|402 Elint Reconnaissance Squadron||P.180 Avanti||Wing 4||Takhli|
|403 Fighter Squadron||F-16AM/BM Block 20 MLU||Wing 4||Takhli|
|501 Light Attack Squadron||Fairchild AU-23||Wing 5||Prachuap Khiri Khan|
|601 Transport Squadron||C-130H/H-30||Wing 6||Don Muang|
|602 Royal Flight Squadron||A319CJ, A320CJ, A340-500||Wing 6||Don Muang||Former Royal Guard|
|603 Transport Squadron||ATR72-600, SSJ100-95LR||Wing 6||Don Muang|
|604 Civil Pilot Training Squadron||PAC CT-4A,
|Wing 6||Don Muang|
|Dechochai 3 Flight Unit||B737-400, B737-800||Wing 6||Don Muang||Royal Flight Unit|
|701 Fighter Squadron||JAS-39 C/D||Wing 7||Surat Thani||Total 12 Gripens delivered (4 Gripen D and 8 Gripen C), replacing F-5E/F.|
|702 Air Control Squadron||Saab 340,
|Wing 7||Surat Thani||Saab 340 70201 and S-100B Argus AEW 70202|
|211 Fighter Squadron||F-5TH Super Tigris||Wing 21||Ubon|
|231 Attack Squadron||Alpha Jet A||Wing 23||Udorn|
|411 Fighter Squadron||Wing 41||Chiang Mai||To be replaced by AT-6TH|
|461 Transport Squadron||Basler BT-67||Wing 46||Phitsanulok||Also conducts rainmaking flights.|
|561 Fighter Squadron||-||Wing 56||Hat Yai||Forward operating base for 701 Fighter Sqn.|
|904 Aggressor Squadron||F-5E||-||Don Muang||Former unit of King Vajiralongkorn Mahidol.|
|1st Flying Training Squadron||PAC CT/4E||Flying Training School||Kamphang Saen||Primary flight training.|
|2nd Flying Training Squadron||Pilatus PC-9M||Flying Training School||Kamphang Saen||Basic flight training.|
|3rd Flying Training Squadron||Eurocopter EC135T3H||Flying Training School||Kamphang Saen||Helicopter training.|
- Directorate of Aeronautical Engineering
- Directorate of Communications and Electronics
- Directorate of Armament
- Directorate of Quartermaster
- Directorate of Civil Engineering
- Directorate of Transportation
- RTAF Software Center
Directorate of Medical Services
First set up in 1913 in the same year as the Air Force, providing nursing services only, and over the years has gradually expanded. It operates Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital and Royal Thai Air Force Hospital in Bangkok, as well as smaller hospitals at each wing. The directorate has made a teaching agreement with the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University to train students at Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital, accepting about 30 students per academic year.
Education and Training Group
- Directorate of Education and Training
- Air War College
- Air Command and Staff College
- Senior Air Officer School
- Squadron Officer School
- Officer Training School
- Academy Instructor School
- Non-Commissioned Officer School
- Air Technical Training School
- RTAF Language Center
- Personal Testing Center
- Technical Service Division
- Chaplain Division
- Navaminda Kasatriyadhiraj Royal Thai Air Force Academy
Special Service Group
- Research and Development Center for Space and Aeronautical Science and Technology
- Directorate of Welfare
- Office of Don Mueang RTAF Base Commander
- Institute of Aviation Medicine
Security Force Command
The RTAF Security Force Command (Thai: หน่วยบัญชาการอากาศโยธิน) is a Division size unit in the Royal Thai Air Force. It has been in existence since 1937. They are based near Don Mueang International Airport. The RTAF Security Force Command is the main air force ground forces and special forces which providing light infantry for anti-hijacking capabilities, protecting air bases and high value assets, protecting international airport in insurgent areas. It also serves as the Royal Thai Air Force Special Operations Regiment (RTAF SOR) which consists of various units such as Combat Control Team (CCT), Pararescue Jumpers (PJs), Tactical Air Control Party (TACP). Royal Thai Air Force Security Force Command consist of 3 main regiments and multiple support units. Additionally, one separated air base protection battalions and one separated anti-aircraft battalions are station in each air bases.
Royal Thai Air Force bases
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 the RTAF took over 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 (Ubon, Udorn) proved costly and exceeded Thai needs; they were turned over to the Department of Civil Aviation for civil use. 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.
|Python 4/3||Israel||beyond-visual-range missile||120 obtained|
|AIM-120C AMRAAM||United States||beyond-visual-range missile||initial 50 missiles|
|AIM-9E/J/P Sidewinder||United States||short range infrared homing missile||600 missiles obtained|
|IRIS-T||Germany||short range infrared homing missile||40 units – employs a thrust vector control motor|
|RBS-15F||Sweden||anti-ship missile||25 missiles obtained|
|AGM-65D/G Maverick||United States||infrared imaging AGM||200 missiles obtained|
|FY||Million (baht)||% GDP|
|Rank group||General/flag officers||Senior officers||Junior officers||Officer cadet|
| Royal Thai Air Force
Chom phon akat
Phon akat ek
Phon akat tho
Phon akat tri
Nawa akat ek
Nawa akat tho
Nawa akat tri
Ruea akat ek
Ruea akat tho
Ruea akat tri
Nak-rian nairuea akat
|Rank group||Senior NCOs||Junior NCOs||Enlisted|
| Royal Thai Air Force
Phan cha akat ek
Phan cha akat tho
Phan cha akat tri
Cha akat ek
Cha akat tho
Cha akat tri
|1919 — 1940
1945 — present
|1940 — 1941||1941 — 1945|
|1919 — 1941
1945 — present
|1941 — 1945|
The Siam Cup BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) International tournament was held at the Show DC stadium in Bangkok from 2017 in cooperation with the Arete BJJ dōjō, hosted by the Royal Thai Air Force. Each year, the tournament brings together more than 400 fighters from more than 50 countries to compete. The Siam Cup BJJ 2021 was scheduled to take place on May 8, but due to restrictions imposed for COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic, the Thai government temporarily postponed all sporting events.
- Royal Thai Air Force Museum
- Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters
- Military of Thailand
- Royal Thai Army
- Royal Thai Navy
- Royal Thai Police
- Leary, 93.
- Forsgren, Jan. "Japanese Aircraft In Royal Thai Air Force and Royal Thai Navy Service During WWII". J-Aircraft. Archived from the original on 4 December 2019.
- Leary, 94.
- Duncan Stearn (22 August 2009). "Thailand and the First World War". First World War.com. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Leary, 96.
- "Royal Thai Air Force Organization". rtaf.mil.th. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
- Nanuam, Wassana (11 February 2016). "Air force readies to go digital". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
- "RTAF Gripen Participates in Network Centric Exercise". 5 September 2021. Archived from the original on 5 September 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
- "Thailand Orders Eurocopters EC725 for SAR Missions". Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
- "Gripen users". Archived from the original on 24 February 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- "THAI GRIPEN: GUARDIANS OF THE SKIES". 31 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
- "New era for air force with modern jets". 22 February 2011. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013.
- Reed Business Information Limited. "SINGAPORE: Saab looks for additional Thai Gripen sale". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
|author=has generic name (help)
- To be replaced by AT-6TH
- "'บิ๊กแฟร้งค์' นำบิ๊กทัพฟ้าร่วมงานวันสถาปนาหน่วย 'อากาศโยธิน' ครบ 69 ปี". thairath.co.th (in Thai). 27 December 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
- "World Air Forces 2023". Flight Global. Flightglobal Insight. 2023. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
- "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal Insight. 2022. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
- Carter, Ann (6 December 2021). "A bird strike may have caused Royal Thai Air Force F-5 fighter jet's recent crashing". The Thaiger. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
- "Royal Thai Air Force B737". airfleets.net. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "A319 for VIPs". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "A320 for VIPs". airfleets.net. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
- "A340 for VIPs". airfleets.net. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
- "SSJ100 for VIPs". airfleets.net. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
- Trade Registers. Armstrade.sipri.org. Retrieved on 2015-05-18.
- RTAF White Paper 2020 (PDF). Royal Thai Air Force. 20 February 2020. pp. 10–11.
- "Thailand's Budget in Brief Fiscal Year 2021". Budget Bureau. 2 October 2020. p. 85. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
- "เครื่องหมายยศทหาร" [Military Rank Insignia]. navedu.navy.mi.th (in Thai). Thai Naval Education Department. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
- Jehan. "Siam cup Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
- "Siam Cup 2018". .Bangkokbiznews (in Thai). November 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
- "Siam Cup Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 2019". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
- "Siam Cup 2020". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
- "Siam Cup 2021". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
- "Phuket Sport: The Way Of The Dojo". The Phuket News Com. 15 January 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
- "Smoothcomp". Smoothcomp. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
- "Siam Cup BJJ GI & No-Gi Tournament Summer Open". Smoothcomp. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
- "Siam Cup 2021". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
- Media related to Royal Thai Air Force at Wikimedia Commons
- RTAF Official website (English version)
- Royal Thai Air Force Whitebook on Gripen program (Thai)
- Royal Thai Air Force Press Release on Gripen program (Eng)[permanent dead link]
- Royal Thai Air Force VDO on Gripen program (Thai)
- Royal Thai Air Force Museum Many Historical Aircraft Here (English Page available)
- Reports with drawings and pictures about the Royal Thai Air Force
- Early history of the Airports of Thailand Authority
- Japanese Aircraft In Royal Thai Air Force and Royal Thai Navy Service During WWII at j-aircraft.com