Royal Thai Air Force
(Kongtap Agard Thai)


The beginning  

The history of the Royal Thai air Force (RTAF) can be traced back until the 1 October 1936 as the Royal Siamese Aeronautical service (RSAS) became an independent armed service.

The Royal Siamese Aeronautical service was however already founded on the 18 January 1911, as the military aviation of the army. At this date the Siamese Ministry of Defence decided the delegation of three officers to France for the study “of flying and maintenance of airplanes”. 


The three  officers where:

Major Luang Sakdisulyavudh 

Captain Luang Arvudsikikorn 

First Lieutenant Thip Ketudat


All three get their pilot licenses in France after comprehensive training in Avord. 1913. Major Major Luang Sakdisulyavudh, later the first commander of the Royal Siamese air Force, got additionally the military pilot license of the French war Ministry. 


In November 1913 the three officers returned to Siam (the name Thailand was used from 1939 on) with four Breguet III and four Nieuport planes. On 23 March 1914, the Royal Siamese Aeronautical service was renamed Royal Siamese Flying Corps and placed under control of the Royal Siamese Engineers Corps


In the January 1914 began the work for the first airfield on a sports field at Don Muang north the capital Bangkok. Hangars and workshops were established and constantly developed. In May 1915 the first own Breguet III biplane, made exclusively of native materials, was first flown. The machines of the RSFC were used primarily for the artillery spotting  and observation. In the autumn 1917 the first maneuvers of the army where held were the RSFC was fully integrated into the structure of the army.




2007 and the future  

20th fighter program

Under the title 20th fighter program the RTAF evaluated a replacement for the Northrop F-5E Tiger at Surat Thani. Fighters being examined for the purchase are the American Lockheed-Martin F-16C/D Block 50/52, the Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKIT, and the Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

2005 the RTAF decided the JAS-39 Gripen as the new fighter, however the prime mister Thaksin Shinawatra not confirmed, because he favoured the Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker.

On a press conference on 17 October 2007, the decision from the cabinet to buy 12 Gripens for für 34,4 Billions  Baht was presented by Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pookpasuk


Together with the JAS-39 the RTAF will procure also three Saab 340. Two planes will be Saab 340 Erieye and one as Trainingsplane.


On 5 Nov 2007, the new trainer prototype developed by Royal Thai Air Force was officially commissioned in the ceremony lead by Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pookpasuk. The 30-million-Baht project was start two years ago, B.ChO.2 is the licensed reengineering of Aermacchi SF.260MT that once service in Thai Air Force. This prototpye will uses for testing and research for the next model RTAF-6 that aims to be a primary trainer for Thai Air Force Flying School, Kamphang Saen.


- Last update 30. December 2012

Written 1. May 2003


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