Royal Thai Air Force

The Royal Thai Air Force or 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.

Royal Thai Air Force
Kong Thap Akat Thai
Emblem of the Royal Thai Air Force.svg
Badge of the Royal Thai Air Force
Founded2 November 1913; 108 years ago (1913-11-02)
Country Thailand
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Anti-aircraft warfare
Size47,000 Active personnel
469 Aircraft
Part ofRoyal Thai Armed Forces
HeadquartersDon Muang Air Base, Bangkok
Nickname(s)"ทัพฟ้า" "Thap Fah" Sky Army
"ทอ." "Thor Or" Abbreviation of Air Force
Motto(s)น่านฟ้าไทย จะมิให้ใครมาย่ำยี
"Thai airspace will never let anyone invade"
Colours   Blue
MarchThai: มาร์ชกองทัพอากาศ
"Royal Thai Air Force March"
Anniversaries9 April 1937
(Royal Thai Air Force Day)
Commander-in-ChiefAir Chief Marshal Napadej Dhupatemiya
RoundelRoundel of Thailand.svg
Fin flashFin Flash of Thailand.svg
FlagFlag of the Royal Thai Air Force.svg
Aircraft flown
AttackAlpha Jet A, F-16A/B Block 15 OCU
Saab 340 AEW&C
FighterJAS-39C/D, F-16AM/BM Block 20 MLU, F-5E/F/TH
HelicopterUH-1, Bell 412, S-92, EC725
InterceptorF-16A/B Block 15 ADF
ReconnaissanceSaab 340B ELINT/COMINT, DA42 MPP, P.180 Avanti
TrainerCT/4, T-41D, PC-9, DA42, T-50TH, T-6TH
TransportC-130, BT-67, ATR-72, 737-400/800, A319/A320, A340-500, SSJ-100-95LR, AU-23


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 Royal Thai Army (RTA) 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 Bréguets and four Nieuports), which formed the nucleus for the Aviation Section of the Army Engineering Division (ASAED). In March 1914, they moved from Sapathum to Don Muang, north of Bangkok and it became the Royal Siamese Flying Corps (RSFC) under the Department of the Army Engineer Inspector General.[citation needed]

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 (RSAS) as it was renamed on 19 March 1919. In October 1936, it became an independent service and was renamed the Royal Siamese Air Force (RSAF) in March 1937. Two years later, when the kingdom was renamed Thailand, it became the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF). The Air Force during the years before World War II was a moderately-well equipped force made up of a mixture of French, American, and Japanese aircraft.[citation needed]

During the Franco-Thai War, the RTAF achieved several air-to-air-victories in dogfights against the Vichy French Air Force. In World War II, the RTAF supported the RTA in its occupation of the Burmese Shan States as allies of the Japanese and took part in the defense of Bangkok against Allied bombing raids in the latter part of the war, achieving some successes against United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang and the B-29 Superfortress. During this period, the RTAF was actively supplied with Imperial Japanese Army Air Service (IJAAS) aircraft such as the Ki-43 and the Ki-27. Other RTAF personnel took an active part the anti-Japanese Free Thai Movement.[citation needed]

The RTAF sent three C-47 Skytrains to support the United Nations in the Korean War. As part of the Laotian Civil War, the RTAF participated in the Battle of Nam Bac. During the Vietnam War, the RTAF also dispatched C-47 Skytrains to support South Vietnamese forces, and was supplied with several F-5 and OV-10C Bronco aircraft by the United States Air Force (USAF). Following the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975, the RTAF took possession of 117 aircraft which had formerly belonged to elements of the South Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian air forces which had evacuated to Thailand.[1]: 469  After the Cambodian–Vietnamese War broke out in 1978, the RTAF participated in operations aimed at countering Vietnamese border raids in Thailand. In 1985, the United States Congress authorized the sale of F-16 fighters to the RTAF.[citation needed]

After the Cold War, the RTAF participated in Operation Border Post 9631 along the Thai-Burmese border in 1999, and participated the evacuation of foreigners during the 2003 Phnom Penh riots in Cambodia.[citation needed]


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, which are: command group, combat group, support group, education and training group, and special services group.[2]

  1. The headquarters group in Bangkok consists of:royal thai air force headquarters support groups, royal flight aircraft administrative center, royal flight helicopter administrative center, air warfare center, office of public sector development and office of intellectual development.
  2. Command group consists of RTAF secretariat, directorate of administrative service, personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, civil affairs, information and communications technology, finance, inspector general, office of RTAF comptroller, internal audit, safety and judge advocate.
  3. Combat group
  4. The support group provides engineering, communications and electronics, ordnance, transportation, quartermaster, medical services support, civil engineering and transportation.
  5. The education and training group coordinates and supervises all air force training programmes.
  6. The special service group is responsible for research and development, the welfare of air force personnel, air police and coordinates the activities of Thai civil aviation with those of the air force.

Royal Thai Air Force (Headquarters)Edit

  • Royal Flight Aircraft Administrative Center
  • Royal Flight Helicopter Administrative Center
  • Air Warfare Center
  • Office of Public Sector Development, RTAF
  • Office of Intellectual Development, RTAF

Command GroupEdit

  • RTAF Secretariat
  • Directorate of Administrative Service
  • Directorate of Personnel
  • Directorate of Intelligence
  • Directorate of Operations
  • Directorate of Logistics
  • Directorate of Civil Affairs
  • Directorate of Information and Communications Technology
  • Office of the RTAF Comptroller
  • Directorate of Finance
  • Directorate of Inspector General
  • Office of RTAF Internal Audit
  • Office of RTAF Safety
  • Office of RTAF Judge Advocate

Combat GroupEdit

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.[2]

composed of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Flying Training Squadrons. Based at RTAFB Kamphang Saen in Nakhon Pathom Province
  • Wing 1
Interceptor and fighter wing based at RTAFB Korat in Nakhon Ratchasima Province.
  • Wing 2
Helicopter wing providing utility/transport and search and rescue. Normally based at RTAFB Khok Kathiam in Lopburi Province
  • Wing 3
Unmanned aerial vehicle wing based at RTAFB Watthana Nakhon in Sa Kaeo Province.
  • Wing 4
Light attack / Interceptor wing based at RTAFB Takhli in Nakhon Sawan Province.
A Basler BT-67 cargo airlifter
  • Wing 5
Transport and special mission wing based at RTAFB Prachuap Khiri Khan in Ao Manao, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
  • Wing 6
Multi-role non-combat wing providing transport, mapping, communications and surveying. Based at RTAFB Don Muang in Bangkok.
  • Wing 7
Interceptor and fighter wing based at RTAFB Surat Thani in Surat Thani Province. The wing is nicknamed, "Ferocious Shark of the Andaman" as well as "House of Gripen" as they fly Gripen aircraft.[3][4]
  • Wing 21
Interceptor wing based at RTAFB Ubon Ratchathani in Ubon Ratchathani Province.
  • Wing 23
Attack wing based at RTAFB Udon in Udon Thani Province.
Royal Thai Air Force F-16 descends after being refuelled by a KC-135
  • Wing 41
Light attack wing based at RTAFB Chiang Mai in Chiang Mai Province.
  • Wing 46
Transport/rainmaking wing based at RTAFB Phitsanulok in Phitsanulok Province.
  • Wing 56
Forward operating base at RTAFB Hat Yai in Songkhla Province.


The following squadrons are currently active with the Royal Thai Air Force.[2]

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 Bell 412, S-92 Wing 2 Khok Ka Thiam Former Royal Guard
202 Helicopter Squadron - Wing 2 Khok Ka Thiam
203 Helicopter Squadron UH-1H, EC 725 Wing 2 Khok Ka Thiam SAR detachments at many locations.
To be replaced by EC 725[5]
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,
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),[6] replacing F-5E/F.[7][8]
702 Air Control Squadron Saab 340,
S-100B Argus
Wing 7 Surat Thani Saab 340 70201 and S-100B Argus AEW 70202[9]
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 T-6 TH[10]
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 Crown Prince 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 Bell 206B (withdrawn 2006) Flying Training School Kamphang Saen Helicopter training.
Surat Thani
Chiang Mai
Prachuap Khiri Khan
Kamphang Saen
Air bases of the Royal Thai Air Force

RTAF Security Force CommandEdit

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 ground forces which providing Infantry for protecting air bases and high value assets, Special forces, Combat Controller (CCT), Combat Rescue Officer (CRO), Pararescue, Tactical Air Control Party, and anti-hijacking capabilities.[11] Royal Thai Air Force Security Force Command consist of 3 main Regiments and multiple support units. Additionally, air base protection Battalions and Anti-aircraft Battalions are each assigned to every air base of the RTAF.

Royal Thai Air Force basesEdit

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.

Support GroupEdit

  • Directorate of Aeronautical Engineering
  • Directorate of Communications and Electronics
  • Directorate of Armament
  • Directorate of Quartermaster
  • Directorate of Civil Engineering
  • Directorate of Transportation

Directorate of Medical ServicesEdit

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 GroupEdit

  • Directorate of Education and Training
  • Air War College
  • Air Command and Staff College
  • Senior Air Officer School
  • Squadron Officer School
  • Officer Training School
  • Academy Instructor School
  • Non-Commissioned Officer School
  • Air Technical Training School
  • RTAF Language Center
  • Personal Testing Center
  • Technical Service Division
  • Chaplain Division
  • Navaminda Kasatriyadhiraj Royal Thai Air Force Academy

Special Service GroupEdit

  • Research and Development Center for Space and Aeronautical Science and Technology
  • Directorate of Welfare
  • Office of Don Mueang RTAF Base Commander
  • Institute of Aviation Medicine



A 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[12]
AT-6 Texan II United States light attack AT-6E 8 on order[12]
Northrop F-5 United States Light fighter F-5E 34 3 B/F variants provide conversion training[12][13]
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States multirole A OCU / ADF 51 14 B variants provide conversion training[12]
JAS 39 Gripen Sweden multirole JAS 39C 11 4 D variants provide conversion training[12]
Saab 340 AEW&C Sweden early warning and control S 100B 2[12] aircraft mounted with an ERIEYE radar.
Saab 340 Sweden transport 5[14]
Boeing 737 United States VIP transport 1[15]
Airbus A319 Germany VIP transport A319CJ 1[16]
Airbus A320 France VIP transport A320CJ 2[17]
Airbus A340 France VIP transport A345 1[18]
Sukhoi Superjet 100 Russia VIP transport 3[19]
Basler BT-67 United States transport 8[12] modified DC-3 with PT6A Turboprop engines.
Piaggio P.180 Italy transport / reconnaissance 1[12]
Diamond DA42 Austria transport / reconnaissance 8 1 on order[12]
Pilatus PC-6 Switzerland transport 14[12]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130H 12[12]
Bell 412 United States utility 3[12]
Bell UH-1 United States SAR / utility UH-1H 12[12]
Sikorsky S-92 United States VIP transport 2[12]
Eurocopter EC 725 France CSAR / utility 12[20]
Trainer Aircraft
KAI T-50 Republic of Korea LIFT T-50TH 12[12]
Pilatus PC-9 Switzerland trainer 19[12]
T-6 Texan II United States advanced trainer T-6C 12 on order[12]
Diamond DA42 Austria multi engine trainer 10[12]
Airbus H-135 France rotorcraft trainer 6 on order[12]


Illustration of an AGM-65 Maverick
Name Origin Type Notes
Air-to-air missile
Python 4/3 Israel beyond-visual-range missile 120 obtained[21]
AIM-120C AMRAAM United States beyond-visual-range missile initial 50 missiles[21]
AIM-9E/J/P Sidewinder United States short range infrared homing missile 600 missiles obtained[21]
IRIS-T Germany short range infrared homing missile 40 units – employs a thrust vector control motor[21]
Air-to-surface missile
RBS-15F Sweden anti-ship missile 25 missiles obtained[21]
AGM-65D/G Maverick United States infrared imaging AGM 200 missiles obtained[21]


RTAF budgets are shown below by fiscal year (FY):[22]

FY Million (baht) % GDP
2018 39,931 0.243%
2019 41,609 0.237%
2020 42,539 0.240%
2021 40,081[23]

Rank structureEdit

NOTE:Rank on paper, not actually used in the Royal Thai Air Force.

OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 Cadet Officer
                      No Insignia
Marshal of the Air Force Air Chief Marshal Air Marshal Air Vice Marshal Air commodore Group Captain Wing Commander Squadron leader Flight lieutenant Flying officer Pilot officer Air Cadet
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
                No insignia
Flight Sergeant
1st Class
Flight Sergeant
1st Class
Flight Sergeant
2nd Class
Flight Sergeant
3rd Class
Sergeant Corporal Leading Aircraftman Leading Aircraftman Airman

Aircraft insigniaEdit


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

Tail markingsEdit

1919 — 1941
1945 — present
1941 — 1945

Sport activityEdit

Brazilian jiu-jitsuEdit

The Siam Cup BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) International tournament will be held at the Show DC stadium in Bangkok from 2017 in cooperation with the Arete BJJ dōjō, hosted by the Royal Thai Air Force.[24][25][26][27][28] Each year, the tournament brings together more than 400 fighters from more than 50 countries to compete.[29][30][31] 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.[32]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: "CINCPAC Command History 1975" (PDF). Commander in Chief Pacific. 7 October 1976. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Royal Thai Air Force Organization". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  3. ^ Nanuam, Wassana (11 February 2016). "Air force readies to go digital". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  4. ^ "RTAF Gripen Participates in Network Centric Exercise". 5 September 2021. Archived from the original on 5 September 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  5. ^ "Thailand Orders Eurocopters EC725 for SAR Missions". Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Gripen users". Archived from the original on 24 February 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  7. ^ "THAI GRIPEN: GUARDIANS OF THE SKIES". 31 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  8. ^ "New era for air force with modern jets". 22 February 2011. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013.
  9. ^ Reed Business Information Limited. "SINGAPORE: Saab looks for additional Thai Gripen sale". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ "'บิ๊กแฟร้งค์' นำบิ๊กทัพฟ้าร่วมงานวันสถาปนาหน่วย 'อากาศโยธิน' ครบ 69 ปี". (in Thai). 27 December 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal Insight. 2022. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "World Air Forces 2021". FlightGlobal. 4 December 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Royal Thai Air Force B737". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  16. ^ "A319 for VIPs". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  17. ^ "A320 for VIPs". Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  18. ^ "A340 for VIPs". Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  19. ^ "SSJ100 for VIPs". Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  20. ^ "Thailand receives final two Airbus H225M Caracal multi-mission helicopters". Asia Pacific Defense Journal. 30 November 2021. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  21. ^ a b c d e f Trade Registers. Retrieved on 2015-05-18.
  22. ^ RTAF White Paper 2020 (PDF). Royal Thai Air Force. 20 February 2020. pp. 10–11.
  23. ^ "Thailand's Budget in Brief Fiscal Year 2021". Budget Bureau. 2 October 2020. p. 85. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  24. ^ Jehan. "Siam cup Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  25. ^ "Siam Cup 2018". .Bangkokbiznews (in Thai). November 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. ^ "Siam Cup Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 2019". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  27. ^ "Siam Cup 2020". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  28. ^ "Siam Cup 2021". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  29. ^ Com, The Phuket News (15 January 2021). "Phuket Sport: The Way Of The Dojo". The Phuket News Com. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  30. ^ "Smoothcomp". Smoothcomp. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Siam Cup BJJ GI & No-Gi Tournament Summer Open". Smoothcomp. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  32. ^ "Siam Cup 2021". BJJASIA. Retrieved 7 June 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)



  • Wieliczko, Leszek A. and Zygmunt Szeremeta. Nakajima Ki 27 Nate (bilingual Polish/English). Lublin, Poland: Kagero, 2004. ISBN 83-89088-51-7.

External linksEdit