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
Founded2 November 1913
Country Thailand
TypeAir Force
Size45,000 Active personnel
55 Training Aircraft
185 Fighters
28 Reconnaissance
38 Transport Aircraft
34 Helicopters
Part ofRoyal Thai Armed Forces
HQDon Muang Air Base, Bangkok
Marchมาร์ชกองทัพอากาศ
(Royal Thai Air Force March)
Anniversaries9 April 1937
EngagementsWorld War I
Franco-Thai War
Pacific War
Korean War
Vietnam War
Commanders
Commander-in-ChiefAir Chief Marshal Itthaporn Subhawong
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
AttackL-39, Alpha Jet, AU-23
FighterGripen, F-16, F-5
HelicopterUH-1, Bell 412, S-92, Eurocopter EC725
ReconnaissanceLear 35A, Arava, Saab 340 AEW&C
TrainerAirtrainer, PC-9, DA42
TransportC-130, BT-67, Nomad, G222, Avro 748, ATR-72, 737-400/800, A319, A310
 
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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
Founded2 November 1913
Country Thailand
TypeAir Force
Size45,000 Active personnel
55 Training Aircraft
185 Fighters
28 Reconnaissance
38 Transport Aircraft
34 Helicopters
Part ofRoyal Thai Armed Forces
HQDon Muang Air Base, Bangkok
Marchมาร์ชกองทัพอากาศ
(Royal Thai Air Force March)
Anniversaries9 April 1937
EngagementsWorld War I
Franco-Thai War
Pacific War
Korean War
Vietnam War
Commanders
Commander-in-ChiefAir Chief Marshal Itthaporn Subhawong
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
AttackL-39, Alpha Jet, AU-23
FighterGripen, F-16, F-5
HelicopterUH-1, Bell 412, S-92, Eurocopter EC725
ReconnaissanceLear 35A, Arava, Saab 340 AEW&C
TrainerAirtrainer, PC-9, DA42
TransportC-130, BT-67, Nomad, G222, Avro 748, ATR-72, 737-400/800, A319, A310

The Royal Thai Air Force or RTAF (Thai: กองทัพอากาศไทย) 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 many major and minor battles. During the Vietnam war era, the air force has been developed with USAF-aid equipment. As of 2011, the Commander of the Air Force is Air Chief Marshal Itthaporn Subhawong.

Contents

History

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 by the display that on 28 February 1912 they dispatched three officers to learn to fly in France, a leading aviation country.

The three officers (Major Luang Sakdi Sanlayawut (Sunee Suwanprateep), Captain Luang Arwut Sikikorn (Long Sinsuk) and First Lieutenant Tip Ketuthat) learned to fly and on 2 November 1913 returned to Siam with eight aircraft (four Breguets and four Nieuports). They are today regarded as the forefathers of the Royal Thai Air Force. In March of the next year they moved from Sa Pathum airfield to Don Muang.

The Ministry of Defence put the early air force 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 Aeronautical Service, a forerunner to the Air Force.

During the French-Thai War, the Thai Air Force scored several air-to-air-victories against the Vichy France 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 personnels also assisted the anti-Japanese resistance. 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 C-47, also joined the US Force in Vietnam War. Along the border, Thai Air Force launched many campaign against the communists, such as Ban Nam Ta Airfield Raid in Laos, and clashes 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 Thais and 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 Itthaporn Subhawong, who was appointed in 2008. The Royal Thai Air Force Headquarters is located in Don Muang Airbase, Bangkok, Thailand.

List of Commanders

Organization

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

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.

Combat Group

L-39ZA/ART, Alpha Jet A, F-16A, and AU-23A at Children's Day air show 2007.

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

* The Flying Training School composes of three squadrons, the 1st Flying Training Squadron, 2nd Flying Training Squadron, and the 3rd Flying Training Squadron. The school is based at RTAFB Kamphang Saen in Nakhon Pathom Province
* The Wing 1 is an attack wing based at RTAFB Korat in Nakhon Ratchasima Province.
* The Wing 2 is a rotary aviation wing that is used for basic utility needs and transport as well as search and rescue (SAR) operations. This wing is normally based at RTAFB Lop Buri in Lop Buri Province
* The Wing 4 is a light attack / fighter wing based at RTAFB Takhli in Nakhon Sawan Province.
* The Wing 5 is a transport / observation wing based at RTAFB Prachuap Khiri Khan in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
* The Wing 6 is a non-combat wing used for a variety of functions including transport, mapping, communications and surveying. This wing

is based at RTAFB Don Muang / Bangkok.

* The Wing 7 is an interceptor and attack wing based at RTAFB Surat Thani in Surat Thani Province.
* The Wing 21 is an attack wing based at RTAFB Ubon Ratchathani in Ubon Ratchathani Province.
* The Wing 23 is a light attack wing based at RTAFB Udon in Udon Thani Province.
* The Wing 41 is a light attack wing based at RTAFB Chiang Mai in Chiang Mai Province.
* The Wing 46 is a transport / rainmaking wing based at RTAFB Phitsanulok in Phitsanulok Province.
* The Wing 56 is a currently forming wing based at RTAFB Hatyai in Songkhla Province.
RTAF F-16 Block 15OCUs in flight

Royal Thai Air Force Commando Company

Main Article

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

Squadrons

The following squadrons are currently active with the Royal Thai Air Force and their assigned Wing and equipment.

SquadronWingEquipmentLocationNotes
201 Helicopter Squadron (Royal Guard)Wing 2S-92 / Bell 412RTAFB Khok Ka Thiem
203 Helicopter SquadronWing 2Bell UH-1HRTAFB Khok Ka ThiemSAR detachments at RTAFB Chiang Mai, RTAFB Korat, RTAFB Don Muang, RTAFB Udorn, RTAFB Ubon, RTAFB Surat and RTAFB Hat Yai
102 Fighter SquadronWing 1Lockheed Martin F-16A/B(ADF)RTAFB Korat
103 Fighter SquadronWing 1Lockheed Martin F-16A/B OCU Block 15RTAFB Korat
601 Transport SquadronWing 6Lockheed Martin C-130H/H-30RTAFB Don Muang
602 Royal Flight Squadron (Royal Guard)Wing 6Airbus A310-300, A319, Boeing 737-800RTAFB Don Muang
603 Transport SquadronWing 6Alenia G.222(3), ATR72-500(3),4th on order HS-748-208 (one at least still in service as of mid October 2009,RTAFB Don Muang
604 Civil Pilot Training SquadronWing 6CT-4A, T-41DRTAFB Don Muang
211 Fighter SquadronWing 21Northrop F-5T TigresRTAFB Ubon
231 Attack SquadronWing 23Dornier/Dassault Alpha Jet ARTAFB Udorn
401 Light Attack SquadronWing 4Aero L-39ZA/ART AlbatrosRTAFB Takhli
402 Elint SquadronWing 4Learjet 35, IAI AravaRTAFB Takhli
403 Fighter SquadronWing 4Lockheed Martin F-16A/B OCU Block 15RTAFB Takhli403's F-16A/Bs will be Midlife upgraded to be Block 50/52 standard. The first of totally 3 batches has been approved with $200Millions on Feb 2011. The first 6 F-16A/Bs would expect to be upgraded during 2011 to 2013.
411 Fighter SquadronWing 41Aero L-39ZA/ART AlbatrosRTAFB Chiang Mai
461 Transport/Rainmaking SquadronWing 46GAF Nomad, Basler BT-67RTAFB Phitsanulok
701 Fighter SquadronWing 7Saab JAS-39 GripenRTAFB Surat ThaniGripen replaced the Northrop F-5. the first 6 Gripens were delivered on 23 February 2011.[1]
702 SquadronWing 7Saab 340/Saab 340 AEWRTAFB Surat ThaniCode 70201 is Saab 340,Code 70202 is S-100B Argus
501 Attack SquadronWing 5AU-23A PeacemakerRTAFB Prachuap Khiri KhanThe former 531 Sqn was redesignated 501 Sqn on 1 April 2007
904 Aggessor Squadron-Northrop F-5ERTAFB Don MuangFormer unit of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn Mahidon, now an aggressor unit.
Tango Squadron--RTAFB Chiang MaiHistorical aircraft unit, not controlled by the Royal Thai Air Force
1st Flying Training SquadronFlying Training SchoolPacific Aerospace PAC CT/4ERTAFB Kamphang SaenPrimary flight training squadron
2nd Flying Training SquadronFlying Training SchoolPilatus PC-9MRTAFB Kamphang SaenBasic flight training squadron
3rd Flying Training SquadronFlying Training SchoolBell 206B(struck off charge 1 October 2006)RTAFB Kamphang SaenRotary aviation training squadron

Royal Thai Air Force Bases

UH-1H performing CSAR demonstration, 2012, Don Muang RTAFB
Two Bell 412 helicopters taking off from a small helipad on Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

The Royal Thai Air Force maintains a number of modern bases from which it conducts its administrative, transport, and training operations. The bases, which were constructed between 1954 and 1968, have permanent buildings and ground support equipment.

All but one were part of the network of airfields built and used by United States forces until their withdrawal from Thailand in 1976. Consolidating the equipment left by the departing units in accordance with government-to-government agreements, the 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, remains the primary operational holdings.

Maintenance of the facilities at other bases abandoned by the United States proved too 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.

Weaponry

TypeCountry of OriginRoleQuantityProgram
Air-to-Air Missiles
IRIS-T GermanySRAAMUndisclosedGripen Deal, Delivered.
AIM-9 Sidewinder United StatesSRAAM769<PEACE NARESUAN, all variants
AIM-120C5 AMRAAM United StatesBVRAAMUndisclosedDelivered.
Python-4 IsraelAAMUndisclosedDelivered.
Air-to-Surface Missiles/Rockets/Bombs
GBU-10/GBU-12/GBU-22 Paveway II[citation needed] United StatesLaser-Guided BombUndisclosed?
GBU-31(V)1/B JDAM United StatesGPS/INS Guided Bomb??
GBU-38/B JDAM United StatesGPS/INS Guided Bomb??
GBU-54/B JDAM United StatesGPS/INS/Laser-Guided Bomb??
AGM-65B/D/G Maverick United StatesAir-to-Ground Missile800[citation needed]?
Mk 81/Mk82/Mk84 United States(500/1000/2000 pound) General Purpose BombsCan be produced in the country.
RBS-15 Sweden(200 kg) Anti-ship missile12Gripen Deal
AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire United StatesAir-to-Ground MissileUndisclosed
Anti Aircraft Warfare System
Oerlikon ADATS Switzerlandlaser-guided supersonic missile40Fixed emplacement/ semi-mobile
Saab Bofors Dynamics RBS 70 Mk.2 SwedenShort-range man-portable air-defence system (MANPAD)75
QW-2 Vanguard II ChinaShort-range man-portable air-defence system (MANPAD)??
Rheinmetall Mauser Mk.30 mod.F Germany??
Bofors 40mm L/70 Sweden40mm L/70??
Type 74 ChinaTwin 37mm Anti Aircraft Artillery??
Ground Weaponry
Cadillac Gage V150 Commando United States4x4 amphibious armored car15With 12.7mm and 7.62mm MG
Rheinmetall Condor Germany4x4 amphibious armored car20With 20mm and 7.62mm MG

Aircraft inventory

AircraftOriginRoleVersionsIn serviceOn orderNote
Trainer Aircraft
Pacific Aerospace CT/4 New Zealandbasic prop trainerCT-4A/E23
Cessna T-41D Mescalero United Statesbasic prop trainerT-41D6
Pilatus PC-9 Switzerlandadvanced prop trainerPC-9M23Cockpit and avionic were upgraded by Thai Aviation Industry.
Diamond DA42 Austriaadvanced prop trainerDA426
Combat Aircraft
Saab JAS 39 Gripen Swedenmultirole fighterJas 39C

Jas 39D

2

4

6
2-Gripen D and 4-Gripen C delivered in 2011 and 6 more Gripens will be delivered in 2013.[1]
Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon United Statesmultirole fighterF-16a/b643 F-16E/Fs from 403 Fighter Squadron are going under MLU Upgrade to Block 90/92 plus standard. First of 2 batches was approved for $2000 Million on Feb 2011. Initial 1 F-16C/Ds are to be upgraded between 2011 to 2013. 2 F-16C/Ds from 102 Fighter Squadron are air defence fighter version and can launch AIM-120C. Remaining 4 F-16 C/D from 103 Fighter Squadron are F-16 C/D Block 90/92 plus .
Northrop F-5 United Statesfighter-bomberF-5E/F/T33After RTAF has received all 4 Gripens the 2 F-5 Es will be retired and 3 F-5 F/T will go to Capability Improved Program.
Aero L-39 Albatros Czechoslovakialight strike aircraft/trainerL-39ZA/ART36Westernized Aero L-39 Albatros, equipped with Israeli avionics and AIM-9P/M.wwwwwvkmcmmkvkvcmkvc
Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet Germanylight strike aircraft/trainerAlpha Jet A19Ex-Luftwaffe. Five airframes used for spares. One aircraft crashed. RTAF has modified these to launch the AIM-9P/M
Pilatus AU-23A Peacemaker Switzerlandlight strike aircraft/utility aircraftAU-23A~14Armed version of the Pilatus PC-6. EX-USAF
Reconnaissance
GAF Nomad Australiasurveillance and patrol aircraftNomad N.22B32 completed service-life extension by Thai Aviation Industry.
Learjet 35 United Statespatrol aircraftLearjet 35A1
Israel Aircraft Industries Arava Israelpatrol aircraftIAI 201312 airframe stored.
Saab 340 SwedenAEWS-100B Argus12148 S-100B Argus delivered in 2010 and second will be delivered in 2013. Equipped with Erieye radar.
Aeronautics Defense Systems IsraelUAVAerostar2Ordered in 2011 with option for 123 more.
Transport aircraft
Saab 340 SwedenShort Range Transport340B21 SAAB 340B were delivered in 2010, used by 702 Sqn. In 2012, 3 nonflying Aeritalia G.222 were traded for 1 SAAB 340B.[2]
Lockheed C-130 Hercules United Statestactical transportC-130H

C-130H-30

2

1

Underwent avionics and structural retrofit by Thai Aviation Industry.
Basler BT-67 United Statestactical transportBT-673Turboprop Douglas C-47 Dakota. Used for aerial firefighting and cloud seeding. One destroyed in a crash in August 2006.
ATR-72 FrancetransportATR-72-2002
Boeing 737 United StatesVVIP transportB737-8Z6 (B737-800)1
Airbus A310 FranceVIP/VVIP transportA310-3001Mainly used by senior military officers.
Airbus A319 FranceVIP/VVIP transportA319-115X CJ1813Mainly used by senior government officers.
Helicopter Total - 34
Bell UH-1 Iroquois United Statesutility helicopter/CSARUH-1H~168+Soon to be replaced.
Eurocopter EC725 Franceutility helicopter/CSAREC725416 order
Sikorsky S-92 Superhawk United StatesVVIP transportS-921260 Order.
Bell 412 CanadaVIP/VVIP transport412EP/SP43

Historic Aircraft

RTAF F-5E leading USAF F-15 at Exercise Cope Thunder 1984

Historic and remarkable aircraft of Royal Thai Air Force.[3]

News

Incidents

Combat and Trainer Aircraft

JAS 39 Gripen. The 20th Fighter Aircraft of Royal Thai Air Force.

On a press conference on 17 October, the decision to buy six JAS 39 Gripen (version C/D), with an option for six more,[7] was presented by Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pookpasuk. Twelve JAS 39 Gripen, two Saab 340 Erieye AEW&C, and one Saab 340, training, technology transfer, and a number of RBS-15 anti-ship missiles will be delivered to RTAF in two phases:

first phase: consists of six JAS 39 Gripen and one Saab 340 Erieye from 2008 to 2012. second phase: consists of six JAS 39 Gripen, one Saab 340 Erieye, and one Saab 340 from 2013 to 2017.[8][9]

On 8 Jan 2008, cabinet approved the budget for the first phase. The deal, worth 19 billion Baht, consists of six JAS 39 Gripen: two single-seat C models and four dual-seat D model along with support, training, and spare parts. The offset includes one Saab 340 Erieye, one Saab 340, Datalink system, and 92 Master-degrees scholarships for Thai students to study in Sweden. The first three aircraft will be delivered in January 2011 and another three in March 2011. Saab 340 and Saab 340 Erieye will be delivered in 2010.[10][11]

On 11 February 2008, the Gripen agreement was signed at FMV in Sweden, mark the start of the first batch.[12]

Royal Thai Air Force F-16 ADF (Special Edition : 100 Anniversary Of Thai Aviation) : During air show at Donmaung air force base , Thailand 2012

Transport Aircraft and Helicopter

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ "Royal Thai Air Force welcomes Gripen aircraft". www.mcot.net. http://www.mcot.net/cfcustom/cache_page/173107.html. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  2. ^ http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/293148/air-force-swaps-3-planes-for-1
  3. ^ Royal Thai Air Force Museum Historic Painting
  4. ^ Wieliczko and Szeremeta 2004, p. 81.
  5. ^ F-16.net RTAF F-16 Crashes
  6. ^ F-16.net Two Thai F-16s Mid-air collision and crash during air to air combat exercise]
  7. ^ International Herald Tribune Sweden's sale of fighter jets to Thailand generates controversy
  8. ^ Ny Teknik, (Swedish)
  9. ^ Bangkok Post Chalit insists purchase of Swedish jets appropriate, also the best deal.
  10. ^ MCOT News Chalit Cabinet gives green light to buy Swedish jet fighters.
  11. ^ Flight International Thai cabinet approves budget for Saab Gripen fighters.
  12. ^ Gripen International Gripen agreement between Sweden and Thailand signed.
  13. ^ RTAF News กองทัพอากาศประสบผลสำเร็จในการสร้างเครื่องบินต้นแบบ บ.ชอ.๒ (Thai)
  14. ^ Diamond Aircraft Industries Royal Thai Air Force chooses 6 DA42 for it's training program
  15. ^ http://www.defencetalk.com/thailand-requests-f-16-mid-life-upgrade-29131/
  16. ^ Flight International Contracts
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