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|Royal Thai Air Force|
Emblem of the Royal Thai Air Force
|Founded||November 2, 1913|
|Allegiance||HM The King of Thailand|
45,000 Active personnel |
|Part of||Royal Thai Armed Forces|
|HQ||Don Muang Air Base, Bangkok|
(Royal Thai Air Force March)
9 April 1937|
(Royal Thai Air Force Day)
World War I|
World War II
Vietnamese border raids in Thailand
Thai–Laotian Border War
|Commander-in-Chief||Air Chief Marshal Chaipruek Didyasarin|
|Royal Thai Air force Flag|
|Attack||Alpha Jet, F-16A/B Block 15 OCU|
|Saab 340 AEW&C|
|Fighter||JAS-39C/D, F-16AM/BM, F-5E/F|
|Helicopter||UH-1, Bell 412, S-92, EC725|
|Reconnaissance||Saab 340B ELINT/COMINT, DA42 MPP, P.180 Avanti|
|Trainer||CT/4, T-41D, PC-9, DA42, L-39, T-50TH|
|Transport||C-130, BT-67, ATR-72, 737-400/800, A319/A320, A340-500, SSJ-100-95LR, AU-23|
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 has engaged in numerous major and minor conflicts. During the Vietnam War era, the RTAF was supplied with USAF-aid equipment.
In February 1911 Belgian pilot Charles Van Den Born was responsible for the first aircraft demonstration in Siam at Bangkok's Sapathum Horse Racing Course. King Rama VI was sufficiently impressed that on 28 February 1912 he sent three Army officers to France to learn to fly. After receiving their wings and qualification, the officers returned to Siam in November 1913, bringing with them eight aircraft: four Breguets and four Nieuport IVs). In March 1914, Thai aviation moved from Sapathum to Don Muang then north of Bangkok.
The Ministry of Defence placed the Siamese Flying Corps under the Army Engineer Inspector General Department. Prince Purachatra Jayakara, Commander of the Army Engineers, and his brother Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, were instrumental in the development of the Royal Siamese Aeronautical Service as it was renamed in 1919. In 1937, it became an independent service known as the Royal Siamese Air Force. Two years later, when the kingdom's name was changed to Thailand, it became the Royal Thai Air Force. The Air Force during the years before the Second World War was seen as a moderately-well equipped force with relatively modern aircraft; a mixture of several French, American, and Japanese types.
During the French-Thai War, the Thai Air Force achieved several air-to-air-victories in dogfights 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 Shan States of Burma as somewhat reluctant allies of the Japanese and took part in the defense of Bangkok against allied air raids in the latter part of the war, achieving some successes against state-of-the-art aircraft like the P-51 Mustang and the B-29 Superfortress. During these times, the RTAF was actively supplied by the Japanese with Imperial Japanese Army Air Force aircraft such as the Ki-43 "Oscar," and the Ki-27 "Nate." Other RTAF personnel took an active part the anti-Japanese resistance movement. The Thai Air Force sent three C-47s to support the United Nations in Korean War. The Wings Unit, operating the C-47, also joined the anti-communist forces in the Vietnam War. Along the border, the Thai Air Force launched many operations against communist forces, including the Ban Nam Ta Airfield Raid in Laos, and clashes between Thai and communist 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.
The RTAF command structure consists of five groups: headquarters, logistics support, education, special services, and combat forces.
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||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 Tiger||Wing 21||Ubon|
|231 Attack Sqn||Alpha Jet||Wing 23||Udorn|
|411 Fighter Sqn||L-39||Wing 41||Chiang Mai|
|461 Transport Sqn||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.|
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.
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 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.
|Marshal of the Air Force||Air Chief Marshal||Air Marshal||Air Vice Marshal||Air Commodore1||Group Captain||Wing Commander||Squadron Leader||Flight Lieutenant||Flying Officer||Pilot Officer||Air Cadet|
|Sergeant||Corporal||Leading Aircraftman||Leading Aircraftman||Airman|
|Alpha Jet||France / Germany||light attack||18|
|Northrop F-5||United States||fighter||F-5E||30|
|JAS 39 Gripen||Sweden||multirole||JAS 39C||7|
|F-16 Fighting Falcon||United States||multirole||A OCU / ADF||38|
|Saab 340 AEW&C||Sweden||early warning and control||S 100B||2||aircraft mounted with a Erieye radar|
|Boeing 737||United States||VIP||1|
|Sukhoi Superjet 100||Russia||VIP||3|
|Basler BT-67||United States||transport||7||modified Douglas DC-3 with P&W PT6A Turboprop engines|
|Super King Air||United States||utility transport||90||1|
|C-130 Hercules||United States||transport||C-130H||12|
|Bell 412||United States||utility||8|
|Bell UH-1||United States||SAR / utility||UH-1H||16|
|Sikorsky S-92||United States||VIP / Med Evac||3|
|Eurocopter EC 725||France||CSAR / utility||6||6 on order|
|KAI T-50||Republic of Korea||fighter trainer||T-50TH||4||8 on order|
|Aero L-39||Czech Republic||trainer||35|
|Northrop F-5||United States||conversion trainer||F-5B/F||4|
|Diamond DA42||Austria||multi engine trainer||10|
|JAS 39 Gripen||Sweden||conversion trainer||JAS 39D||4|
|F-16 Fighting Falcon||United States||conversion trainer||F-16B||15|
|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|
|1919 — 1940
1945 — present
|1940 — 1941||1941 — 1945|
|1919 — 1941
1945 — present
|1941 — 1945|
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