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Thailand sets out aircraft procurement plans

20 February 2020
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The Royal Thai Air Force has released its 2020 White Paper, which notes a number of procurement and aircraft replacement programmes, including one for the service’s F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft (pictured). Source: Jane’s/Kelvin Wong

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has set out medium- and longer-term procurement plans that include the purchase of new combat, transport, VVIP/VIP, trainer and unmanned aircraft types, as well as new helicopters.

In the RTAF White Paper 2020, released on 20 February, the service outlined a number of replacement aircraft that it intends to procure to replace ageing types over the coming decade-or-so.

Key programmes include new combat aircraft to replace the service's F-5 Tiger IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, and L-39s; new medium-sized transport aircraft to replace the C-130H, Saab 340B and BT-67; a new VVIP aircraft and helicopter type to serve the royal family, and a VIP aircraft to replace the Airbus ACJ319 used by government officials and as a back-up for the royal family; additional DA-40 trainer aircraft to replace the CT-4B, as well as other types to replace the CT-4E and PC-9; an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to replace the current U1 platform; and a new helicopter type to replace the Bell 412.

Under its F-5B/E replacement project, the White Paper proposes fiscal year (FY) 2023-25 funding to procure a single Saab Gripen C/D aircraft to replace one lost to an accident in 2017, and to bring the fleet back up to 12 (eight single-seat Gripen C and four twin-seat Gripen D). The Gripen C/D is already earmarked as the RTAF's eventual F-5 replacement platform, although for the near-term it has opted to upgrade rather than retire these ageing airframes. No funding level has been decided.

The F-16A/B replacement involves one squadron of 12 multirole aircraft being procured through FY 2028-31 (Phase 1 for six aircraft) and FY 2030-33 (Phase 2 for six aircraft) funding. No funding level has been decided.

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