Royal Thai Air Force
|Royal Thai Air Force
Emblem of the Royal Thai Air Force
|Founded||2 November 1913 (102 years)|
|Allegiance||King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand|
|Size||45,000 Active personnel
|Part of||Royal Thai Armed Forces|
|HQ||Don Muang Air Base, Bangkok|
(Royal Thai Air Force March)
|Anniversaries||9 April 1937
(Royal Thai Air Force Day)
|Engagements||World War I
World War II
Vietnamese border raids in Thailand
Thai–Laotian Border War
|Commander-in-Chief||Air Chief Marshal Treetod Sonjance|
|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||CT/4, PC-9, DA42|
|Transport||C-130, BT-67, Nomad, ATR-72, 737-400/800, A319, A310, RRJ-95LR|
The Royal Thai Air Force or 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 had engaged in numerous major and minor battles. During the Vietnam War era, the air force was supplied with USAF-aid equipment.
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 centre 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
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. The Royal Thai Air Force Headquarters is located in Don Muang Airbase, Bangkok, Thailand.
- Commander-in-Chief: Air Chief Marshal Treetod Sonjance
- Deputy Commander-in-Chief: Air Chief Marshal Wattana Maneenai
- Chairman of the RTAF Advisory Board: Air Chief Marshal Sutthiphan Kritsanakhup
- Assistant Commander-in-Chief: Air Chief Marshal Twidanes Angsusingha
- Assistant Commander-in-Chief: Air Chief Marshal Padet Wongpinkaew
- Chief of Staff of the Air Force: Air Chief Marshal Johm Rungswang
List of Commanders
Rank and insignia
The RTAF command structure consists of five groups: headquarters, logistics support, education, special services, and combat forces.
- The headquarters group in Bangkok performs the usual general staff functions, including planning and directing operations of the combat elements.
- Combat Group.
- The support group provides engineering, communications, ordnance, transportation, quartermaster, and medical services support.
- The education group coordinates and supervises all air force training programmes.
- 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.
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.
The following squadrons are currently active with the Royal Thai Air Force.
|102 Fighter Sqn||F-16A/B ADF||Wing 1||Korat|
|103 Fighter Sqn||F-16A/B||Wing 1||Korat|
|201 Helicopter Sqn||Bell 412, S-92||Wing 2||Khok Ka Thiem||Royal Guard|
|203 Helicopter Sqn||UH-1H||Wing 2||Khok Ka Thiem||SAR detachments at many locations.
To be replaced by EC 725 
|401 Light Attack Sqn||L-39||Wing 4||Takhli||To be replaced by T-50|
|402 Elint Sqn||Learjet 35, IAI Arava||Wing 4||Takhli|
|403 Fighter Sqn||F-16AM/BM||Wing 4||Takhli|
|501 Light Attack Sqn||Fairchild AU-23||Wing 5||Prachuap Khiri Khan Province|
|601 Transport Sqn||C-130H/H-30||Wing 6||Don Muang|
|602 Royal Flight Sqn||A319, B737||Wing 6||Don Muang||Royal Guard|
|603 Transport Squadron||ATR72||Wing 6||Don Muang|
|604 Civil Pilot Training Sqn||PAC CT-4A, T-41D||Wing 6||Don Muang|
|701 Fighter Sqn||JAS-39 Gripen C/D||Wing 7||Surat Thani||Total 12 Gripens delivered (4 Gripen D and 8 Gripen C), replacing F-5E/F.  |
|702 Sqn||Saab 340, S-100B Argus||Wing 7||Surat Thani||Saab 340 70201 and S-100B Argus AEW 70202|
|211 Fighter Sqn||F-5T Tigris||Wing 21||Ubon|
|231 Attack Sqn||Alpha Jet||Wing 23||Udorn|
|411 Fighter Sqn||L-39||Wing 41||Chiang Mai|
|461 Transport Sqn||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||-||Don Muang||Former unit of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn Mahidol.|
|1st Flying Training Sqn||PAC CT/4E||Flying Training School||Kamphang Saen||Primary flight training.|
|2nd Flying Training Sqn||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
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.
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 Lopburi in Lopburi 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 Ao Manao, 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. The wing is nicknamed, "Ferocious Shark of the Andaman" as well as "House of Gripen" as they fly Gripen aircraft.
- 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 Hat Yai in Songkhla Province.
|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|
|AGM-65D/G Maverick||United States||infrared imaging AGM||200 missiles obtained|
- Royal Thai Air Force Museum
- Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters
- Military of Thailand
- Royal Thai Army
- Royal Thai Navy
- "ѧѺѭдѺ٧ͧͧѾҡ". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- "THAI GRIPEN: GUARDIANS OF THE SKIES". October 31, 2015.
- Reed Business Information Limited. "SINGAPORE: Saab looks for additional Thai Gripen sale". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- Nanuam, Wassana (2016-02-11). "Air force readies to go digital". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
- "World Air Forces 2016 pg. 31". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
- "Royal Thai Air Force F-16s Database". f-16.net. 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
- "Royal Thai Air Force B737". airfleets.net. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "A319 for VIPs". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "Thai military gets new S-92, Mi-17 helicopters". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- Trade Registers. Armstrade.sipri.org. Retrieved on 2015-05-18.
- Wieliczko, Leszek A. and Zygmunt Szeremeta. Nakajima Ki 27 Nate (bilingual Polish/English). Lublin, Poland: Kagero, 2004. ISBN 83-89088-51-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Royal Thai Air Force.|
- RTAF Official website (English version)
- Royal Thai Air Force Whitebook on Gripen program (Thai)
- Royal Thai Air Force Press Release on Gripen program (Eng)
- 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