Utapao Air Base
U-TAPAO International Airport is one of the important international airport under supervision of the Royal Thai Naval Air Division Commander. U-Tapao International Airport is one of Thailand 's regional airport located 25 minute's drive from Pattaya and Rayong which are among the best beach resorts in Thailand. Utapao Royal Thai Naval Air Force Base is located near the city of Sattahip. It is located on the Gulf of Siam and is approximately 90 miles South of Bangkok.
Thailand is an important element in the Pentagon's new strategy of "forward positioning," establishing sites where American forces can store equipment and from which they can come and go as needed. Despite Thailand's neutrality on the war in Iraq, the country allowed Utapao to be used by American warplanes flying into combat in Iraq, as it had earlier done during the war in Afghanistan. Utapao may be where Qaeda operatives have been interrogated, according to some retired American intelligence officials.
Royal Thai marines hit the beach at Utapao, Thailand during a Combined Amphibious Landing Force Exercise with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable. The U.S. and Thai Marines trained together during the exercise, which was part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2002.
Operational dates for American forces in Utapao were between 18 April 1966 to 20 June 1976. U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield was a forward operating base for B-52 Stratofortresses and KC-135 Stratotankers of the Strategic Air Command (SAC).
Various aircraft flew aerial surveillance of South Vietnam's coastal waters. Throughout this period, five to seven P-2 Neptunes stationed at Tan Son Nhut near Saigon ranged up and down the South Vietnamese littoral along designated patrol tracks. In addition, from May 1965 to April 1967, Martin P-5 Marlin seaplanes operated from seaplane tenders Currituck (AV 7) and Salisbury Sound (AV 13), periodically anchored at Condore and Cham islands and at Cam Ranh Bay. To compensate for withdrawal of the older seaplanes in early 1967, the Navy stationed a squadron of twelve P-2s ashore at Cam Ranh Bay and a detachment of P-3s at Utapao in Thailand. The P-3s patroled the Gulf of Siam.
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