Royal Thai Air Force
กองทัพอากาศไทย
Kong Thap Akat Thai
Badge of the Royal Thai Air Force
Founded2 November 1913; 110 years ago (1913-11-02)
Country Thailand
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Anti-aircraft warfare
Size46,000 active personnel[1]
469 Aircraft
Part ofRoyal Thai Armed Forces
HeadquartersDon Muang Air Base, Bangkok
Nickname(s)"ทอ." "Thor Or" Abbreviation of Air Force
"ทัพฟ้า" "Thap Fah" Sky Army
Motto(s)น่านฟ้าไทย จะมิให้ใครมาย่ำยี
"The Thai airspace, none shall ever invade"
Colours   Blue
MarchThai: มาร์ชกองทัพอากาศ
"Royal Thai Air Force March"
Anniversaries9 April 1937
(Royal Thai Air Force Day)
Engagements
Websitertaf.mi.th
Commanders
Commander-in-ChiefAir Chief Marshal Punpakdee Pattanakul
Insignia
Roundel
Fin flash
Flag
Aircraft flown
Electronic
warfare
Saab 340 AEW&C
FighterJAS-39C/D, F-16, F-5, Alpha Jet
HelicopterS-70i, Bell 412, S-92, EC725
ReconnaissanceSaab 340B, DA42 MPP, P.180 Avanti
TrainerCT/4, T-41D, PC-9, DA42, T-50TH, T-6TH
TransportC-130, BT-67, ATR-72, Boeing 737, A320, A340, SSJ-100-95LR

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) (Thai: กองทัพอากาศไทย; RTGSKong 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.

History

Main article: Military history of Thailand

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.[2][3]

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.[4][5]

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.[3] 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.[6]

Structure

See also: List of commanders-in-chief of the Royal Thai Air Force

The Air Force is commanded by the Commander of the Royal Thai Air Force (ผู้บัญชาการทหารอากาศไทย). The Royal Thai Air Force Headquarters is located in Don Muang Airbase, Bangkok, Thailand.

The RTAF consists of headquarters and five groups: command, combat, support, education and training, and special services.[7]

Headquarters Group

Command Group

Combat Group

An F-5E with the 904 Aggressor Squadron

The Royal Thai Air Force Combat Group is divided into 11 wings plus a training school, plus a few direct-reporting units.[7]

Wing Role Province Base Notes
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.[8][9]
Wing 21 Interceptor Ubon Ratchathani Ubon Ratchathani
Wing 23 Attack Udon Thani Udon
Wing 41 Light attack Chiang Mai Chiang Mai
Wing 46 Transport/rainmaking Phitsanulok Phitsanulok
Wing 56 Forward operating base Songkhla Hat Yai
A Basler BT-67 cargo airlifter

Squadrons

The following squadrons are currently active with the Royal Thai Air Force.[7]

Squadron Equipment Wing RTAF Base Notes
101st Fighter Squadron - Wing 1 Korat
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[10]
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,
T-41D,
Diamond DA42
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),[11] replacing F-5E/F.[12][13]
702 Air Control Squadron Saab 340,
S-100B Argus
Wing 7 Surat Thani Saab 340 70201 and S-100B Argus AEW 70202[14]
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[15]
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.
Royal Thai Air Force is located in Thailand
Surat Thani
Surat Thani
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai
Prachuap Khiri Khan
Prachuap Khiri Khan
Phitsanulok
Phitsanulok
Kamphang Saen
Kamphang Saen
Air bases of the Royal Thai Air Force

Support Group

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

Special Service Group

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).[16] 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

Main article: 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.

Equipment

Aircraft

See also: List of aircraft of the Royal Thai Air Force

The Royal Thai Air Force Saab JAS 39 Gripen
A Thai S-92 for the Royal flight
Royal Thai Air Force A319
Royal Diamond DA42 at Khon Kaen
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Alpha Jet France / Germany light attack 18[17]
AT-6 Texan II United States light attack AT-6E 8 on order[17]
Northrop F-5 United States Light fighter F-5E 34 3 B/F variants provide conversion training[18][19]
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States multirole A OCU / ADF 50 14 B variants provide conversion training[17]
JAS 39 Gripen Sweden multirole JAS 39C 11 4 D variants provide conversion training[17]
AEW&C
Saab 340 AEW&C Sweden early warning and control S 100B 2[17] aircraft mounted with an ERIEYE radar.
Transport
Saab 340 Sweden transport 5[17]
Boeing 737 United States VIP transport 1[20]
Airbus A319 Germany VIP transport A319CJ 1[21]
Airbus A320 France VIP transport A320CJ 2[22]
Airbus A340 France VIP transport A340-500 1[23]
Sukhoi Superjet 100 Russia VIP transport 3[24]
Basler BT-67 United States transport 8[17] modified DC-3 with PT6A Turboprop engines.
Piaggio P.180 Italy transport / reconnaissance 1[17]
Diamond DA42 Austria transport / reconnaissance 11[17]
Pilatus PC-6 Switzerland transport 14[17]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130H 12[17]
Helicopters
Bell 412 United States utility 5[17]
Sikorsky S-70 United States VIP / utility S-70i 5
Sikorsky S-92 United States VIP transport 2[17]
Eurocopter EC 725 France CSAR / utility 12[17]
Trainer Aircraft
KAI T-50 Republic of Korea LIFT T-50TH 14 2 on order[17]
Pilatus PC-9 Switzerland trainer 19[17]
T-6 Texan II United States advanced trainer T-6C 12 on order[17]
Diamond DA42 Austria multi engine trainer 18[17]
Airbus H-135 France rotorcraft trainer 6[17]

Armament

Illustration of an AGM-65 Maverick
Name Origin Type Notes
Air-to-air missile
Python 4/3 Israel beyond-visual-range missile 120 obtained[25]
AIM-120C AMRAAM United States beyond-visual-range missile initial 50 missiles[25]
AIM-9E/J/P/M Sidewinder United States short range infrared homing missile 600 missiles obtained[25]
IRIS-T Germany short range infrared homing missile 40 units – employs a thrust vector control motor[25]
Air-to-surface missile
RBS-15F Sweden anti-ship missile 25 missiles obtained[25]
AGM-65D/G Maverick United States infrared imaging AGM 200 missiles obtained[25]

Budget

RTAF budgets are shown below by fiscal year (FY):[26]

FY Million (baht) % GDP
2018 39,931 0.243%
2019 41,609 0.237%
2020 42,539 0.240%
2021 40,081[27]

Rank structure

Main article: Military ranks of the Thai armed forces

Officers

Rank group General/flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Royal Thai Air Force[28]
Marshal of the Royal Thai Air Force Air Chief Marshal Air Marshal Air Vice Marshal Group Captain Wing Commander Squadron Leader Flight Lieutenant Flying Officer Pilot Officer
จอมพลอากาศ
Chom phon akat
พลอากาศเอก
Phon akat ek
พลอากาศโท
Phon akat tho
พลอากาศตรี
Phon akat tri
นาวาอากาศเอก
Nawa akat ek
นาวาอากาศโท
Nawa akat tho
นาวาอากาศตรี
Nawa akat tri
เรืออากาศเอก
Ruea akat ek
เรืออากาศโท
Ruea akat tho
เรืออากาศตรี
Ruea akat tri
นักเรียนนายเรืออากาศ
Nak-rian nairuea akat

Other ranks

Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
 Royal Thai Air Force[28]
Flight Sergeant 1st Class Flight Sergeant 2nd Class Flight Sergeant 3rd Class Sergeant Corporal Leading Aircraftman No insignia
พันจ่าอากาศเอก
Phan cha akat ek
พันจ่าอากาศโท
Phan cha akat tho
พันจ่าอากาศตรี
Phan cha akat tri
จ่าอากาศเอก
Cha akat ek
จ่าอากาศโท
Cha akat tho
จ่าอากาศตรี
Cha akat tri
พลทหาร
Phon thahan

Aircraft insignia

Roundels

1919 — 1940
1945 — present
1940 — 1941 1941 — 1945

Tail markings

1919 — 1941
1945 — present
1941 — 1945

Sports

Brazilian jiu-jitsu

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.[29][30][31][32][33] Each year, the tournament brings together more than 400 fighters from more than 50 countries to compete.[34][35][36] 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.[37]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (15 February 2023). The Military Balance 2023. London: Routledge. p. 294. ISBN 9781032508955.
  2. ^ Leary, 93.
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ Leary, 94.
  5. ^ Duncan Stearn (22 August 2009). "Thailand and the First World War". First World War.com. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  6. ^ Leary, 96.
  7. ^ a b c "Royal Thai Air Force Organization". rtaf.mil.th. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  8. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (11 February 2016). "Air force readies to go digital". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  9. ^ "RTAF Gripen Participates in Network Centric Exercise". 5 September 2021. Archived from the original on 5 September 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  10. ^ "Thailand Orders Eurocopters EC725 for SAR Missions". Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Gripen users". Archived from the original on 24 February 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  12. ^ "THAI GRIPEN: GUARDIANS OF THE SKIES". 31 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  13. ^ "New era for air force with modern jets". 22 February 2011. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013.
  14. ^ Reed Business Information Limited. "SINGAPORE: Saab looks for additional Thai Gripen sale". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014. ((cite web)): |author= has generic name (help)
  15. ^ To be replaced by AT-6TH
  16. ^ "'บิ๊กแฟร้งค์' นำบิ๊กทัพฟ้าร่วมงานวันสถาปนาหน่วย 'อากาศโยธิน' ครบ 69 ปี". thairath.co.th (in Thai). 27 December 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "World Air Forces 2023". Flight Global. Flightglobal Insight. 2023. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  18. ^ "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal Insight. 2022. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ "Royal Thai Air Force B737". airfleets.net. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  21. ^ "A319 for VIPs". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  22. ^ "A320 for VIPs". airfleets.net. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  23. ^ "A340 for VIPs". airfleets.net. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  24. ^ "SSJ100 for VIPs". airfleets.net. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Trade Registers. Armstrade.sipri.org. Retrieved on 2015-05-18.
  26. ^ RTAF White Paper 2020 (PDF). Royal Thai Air Force. 20 February 2020. pp. 10–11.
  27. ^ "Thailand's Budget in Brief Fiscal Year 2021". Budget Bureau. 2 October 2020. p. 85. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  28. ^ a b "เครื่องหมายยศทหาร" [Military Rank Insignia]. navedu.navy.mi.th (in Thai). Thai Naval Education Department. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  29. ^ Jehan. "Siam cup Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  30. ^ "Siam Cup 2018". .Bangkokbiznews (in Thai). November 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Siam Cup Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 2019". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  32. ^ "Siam Cup 2020". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  33. ^ "Siam Cup 2021". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  34. ^ "Phuket Sport: The Way Of The Dojo". The Phuket News Com. 15 January 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  35. ^ "Smoothcomp". Smoothcomp. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  36. ^ "Siam Cup BJJ GI & No-Gi Tournament Summer Open". Smoothcomp. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  37. ^ "Siam Cup 2021". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.

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Bibliography