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Royal Thai Air Force

The Royal Thai Air Force has one of the longest history of any air forces in the world. The foundation in aviation was laid since the year 1911 and has continued to prosper to the present days. Our mission is to protect the country's sovereignty preparing and employing air power when required, while in peace, the Royal Thai Air Force maintains readiness and provide full fledge support to national development. As an avid contributor to the National Policy in keeping close ties with friendly countries, the Royal Thai Air Force seeks and provides cooperation and assistance to promote friendship among allies and friends alike.

The mission of the Royal Thai Air Force is to prepare and employ air power in defence of the Kingdom of Thailand. The RTAF will employ specific air power to maintain nation security pertaining to different type of threat confronted such as outside military intervention, border conflicts and in-country terroism. The Royal Thai Air Force takes part in promoting friendly relationship and cooperation among the countries of this region. The cooperation are both bilateral and multilateral. For instance, the cooperation in training, exercises, logistics and Exchange Visit Programmes.

The characteristic and performance of air power is speed, range, Flexibility, precision and destructiveness. Suitable development will ensure efficiency in defending the Kingdom of Thailand and can assure a timely counter attack when situations require. The Royal Thai Air Force has developed its air power to as high a potential as the other air forces of this region. In case of conflict. The Royal Thai Air Force is ready to use air power to defend the freedom, Sovereignty and national interest of the country. The air power can also support and perform joint operations in concert with other alkied forces.

The Royal Thai Air Force Operational Doctrine is:

  • Strategic Air Operation : To use air power against strategic target in order to end the conflict at the soonest
  • Tactical Air Operation : To use air power in the battlefield as follows ;
    • Counter Air
    • Air Interdiction
    • Joint Operation
    • Aerial Reconnaissance
    • Airlift
    • Special Taske i.e. Aerial Refueling, EW, Rescue and Recovery, psychological operation and other services.
  • Air Defence : The RTAF is responsible for the defence ot the Kingdom of Thailand by using Airborne Warning System fighter aircraft and anti - aircraft weapons.

The Royal Thai Air Force has been well equipped with personnel and eauipment and is ready to assist the civil community in event of disasters. The "Disaster Relief Center" was established to assist disaster victime 24 hours a day. To assist flash flood victims in 1995, the Air Force provided transportation. Including trucks and punts, for people in devastated areas, built dikes, set up water pumps, launched towing mechanic teams to assist drivers and mobile doctor teams for medical treatment, and supplied drinking water and other relief provisions. Additionally, a rahabilitation team was launched after the flood to Bangkok and areas throughout the country.

In operational terms, the Royal Thai Air Force is organized into three major commands: the Directorate of Air Operations Control (DAOC), the Flying Training School (FTS), and the Security Forces Command (SFC). The RTAFs HQ is based at Don Muang, which also serves as the Air Force Operations Center, Air Defence Center, Anti-aircraft Operations Center, Direct Air Support Center, Satellite Telecommunications Center and Telecommunications Center.

The Anti-aircraft Operations Center manages one Anti-aircraft Regiment, divided into two Anti-aircraft Battalions equipped with a varied range of weapons, from M2QCB 12.7mm machine guns to QW-2 missile systems and their respective guidance radars. In addition to Don Muang, the Air Force has 21 other air bases. Five of them are as Main Operating Bases, four are Forward Operating Bases, eight are designated as Reserve to Forward Operating Bases, two are Special Operations Aviation Bases, and the final two are Separate Airports.

The Directorate of Air Operations Control (DAOC) consists of the Tactical Operation Division, Air Patrol/ Reconnaissance Division, Air Mobility Division and the Search and Rescue Division. Together these Divisions are tasked with the management of operations performed by over 250 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft distributed across 11 wings and 19 squadrons. The command and control of their missions is carried out by the Royal Thai Air Defence System (RTADS), said by some to be one of the worlds most advanced and efficient air defence systems. It has been developed in three phases, the last of which was completed in 2000.

RTADS Phase I covers the central, eastern and north-eastern regions, with Reporting Posts at Phe, Khao, Phanom and Rung City. It is equipped with two AN/FPS-117 3D radars, two Martello 743 3D radars and one AN/TPS-43F radar. It is linked to the RTAFs HQ via a myriad of wireless devices, including radios operating under Have Quick/Link 11/TADTL-A secure systems provide a datalink capability with aircraft operating over its zone of responsibility.

RTADS Phase II covers the western, northern and again the north-eastern regions, with Reporting Posts at Phu Man, Kliao, Yai, Udon Thani and Phitsanulok Phukhieo. Finally, RTADS Phase III covers the southern region, with Reporting Posts at Samui, Phuket and Hat Yai. Its radar equipment is limited to just three AN/FPS-130X 3D radars, but the combat operations within its zone of responsibility are overviewed by a version of the Swedish-made StriC, designed to operate with the recently received Saab S1OOB Argus AEW&C aircraft and the JAS 39 Gripen fighters.

In addition to the RTADS, the Royal Thai Air Force also has two mobile radar stations equipped with Giraffe 180 radars, 34 telecommunications centers, and 31 telecommunication relay stations across the country. It should be noted that all information gathered by the RTADS is managed by JADDTN software, which transmits data not only to all RTAF stations but also to the Thai Army and Navy bases and features a satellite node.

The air to air arm of the RTAF comprises 13 Northrop F-5Es and four F-5Fs updated by Elbit to Tigris (F-5T) standard, which includes the AN/APQ-159(V)3/4/5 radar, DASH helmet-mounted display, the AN/ARN-118 radar warning receiver and AN/ALE-40 countermeasures dispenser system, among other improvements. A total of 12 F-16A and six F-16B Block 15 MLUs received AN/APG-68(V)9 radars, AN/APX-113 combined interrogator/ transponders, JHMCS helmet-mounted displays and the M1DS/LVT AN/USQ-140(V)1C Link 16/TADIL-J compatible radios. A further 16 F-16A/B ADFs retain their original AN/APG-66A(V)1 radar. Finally, the 12 JAS 39C/D Gripens are equipped with PS-05 radar, TSC 2000 TFF, Cobra helmet-mounted display, EWS 39/BOW-21 electronic warfare and countermeasures suite, BOP/C countermeasures dispenser and M3AR-6000 secure radio. The RTAFs strike capability is represented by 32 L-39ZA/ARTs, 19 Alpha Jets and 17 AU-23 A Peacemakers.

The RTAFs transport fleet includes 12 C-130H/H-30 Hercules, currently being upgraded; 15 Nomad 22Bs; eight BT-67/ C-47TPs; four ATR-72-500s; four HS748-208s; six CN235s (yet to be inducted); two Boeings (a 737-8Z6 BBJ and a 737-4Z6); two Airbus (one A310-324 and an A319-115XCJ); one Merlin IVA and one King Air 90, while the rotary-wing component comprises 25 UH-1Hs, 12 Bell 212ST/412HP/SP/EP, and three S-92s.

The Royal Thai Air Forces electronic eyes are provided by the Saab Argus, which is equipped with the Ericsson Erieye active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and other devices; nine AU-23 As, equipped with Rolleiflex, Kodak DCS-560, Hasselblad H3D and Fairchild K-38 oblique/vertical cameras and FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE in optical/infra-red systems, Argon ST Daedalus AA3500 infra-red scanner and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Toplite II multi-sensor for reconnaissance missions; and six Diamond Airborne Sensing DA42 MPPs with WESCAM MX-15 electro-optical/infra-red capability.

Other aircraft dedicated to special roles include two Israeli Arava 201s (equipped with the Watkins-Johnson WJ-927 radar detection system and AN/ALQ-504(V)1 communications intelligence suite) and a Learjet 35A EW, with CA-295 dual-band digital framing camera and KS-157A long-range oblique film camera, among other equipment. Furthermore, the RTAF also includes unmanned aerial vehicles in its order of battle, with two Aeronautics Defense Systems Aerostars, three L-3 Unmanned Systems Tigersharks and three Cyber Technology CyberEye IIs. The deployment of air power is the responsibility of Wing 56, which is charged with mission preparation and execution of air power, based at RTAFB Hatyai.




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