skip to main content

Thai air force outlines plans for new fighters, unmanned systems

The RTAF is seeking to replace its ageing F-16A/B combat aircraft fleet since 2020. These aircraft have been in service from 1988. (Janes)

The Royal Thai Force (RTAF) has detailed plans to acquire a wide range of unmanned capabilities, missiles, and a priority procurement of new fighter aircraft in its 2024 White Paper.

The new White Paper – released on 29 February – lists a series of short-term acquisitions and improvements. It includes a plan to procure between 12 and 14 new fighter aircraft to replace Lockheed Martin F-16A/B aircraft operated by the RTAF's 102 Squadron of Wing 1 in Korat.

According to the White Paper, the planned acquisition also includes associated “equipment, training aids, spare parts, weapon systems, and ground support equipment, as well as related training”.

In its earlier 2020 White Paper, the RTAF said it sought to acquire one squadron of at least 12 multirole aircraft through 2023–28 (across a two-phased acquisition). However, a lack of funding delayed this procurement. In the 2024 White Paper, the RTAF said it seeks to acquire the new aircraft during 2025–34.

Janes understands that fighter aircraft competing for the RTAF programme include the F-16 Block 70/72 and Saab's Gripen.

The White Paper also outlined the RTAF's aspiration to maintain a qualitative edge while assessing possible security threats. The White Paper classified three types of RTAF requirements. They include core competencies to maintain sovereignty in the airspace, joint capabilities to support joint operations with other agencies, and additional capabilities to strengthen the efficiency of core and joint capabilities.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...