Armed Forces Overviews
Thailand

 

Royal Thai Armed Forces

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Other Forces


Like many other airforces, the Royal Thai Air Force also started the military flying service by sending a number of Officers to France to get their first flying training at the Nieuport company. This took place in January of the Budda year 2454 (1911). The first three officers returned to Siam in November 1913. At the same time Siam bought its first aircraft to equip the Army Aviation section which were 4 Nieuport monoplanes and 4 Breguet biplanes. The Army Aviation service was established on a rice field south of Bangkok. The three aviation pioneers were Major Luang Saksalyavudh, Captain Luang Arvudhsikikom, and First Lieutenant Thip Ketudat.

From this modest begining, the Aviation Unit continued to grow and eventually had to look for a new home to cope with its fast expansion. A site locally known as Don Muang was finally chosen. Relocation was completed on March 17, 1914. On March 27 of the same year, the unit was elevated by an order of the Ministry of War (Defence) to become the Army Air Corps. Since then March 27 has been recognised as the birthday of the Royal Thai Air Force.

In 1918 the expanding Air Corps gained the status of a division. Known as the Army Aviation Division, the unit which consisted of three wings remained under the Army until December 1921 when it was renamed the Air Division and was placed directly under the Ministry of War. The Division, which continued to grow by leaps and bounds, had its name changed again in 1935 to the Air Force Division. Two years later, it was proclaimed the Royal Thai Air Force, a separate service of the country's armed forces with five wings which was expanded to 11 wings by 1987.

After World War II, technical advancement in Western countries went so fast that it was practically impossible for the RTAF to catch up due to lack of fund and encouragement. Although its self-reliance programme was continued, the RTAF had to purchase most of its new aircraft from the West or acquire them through foreign military aid programmes.

1957 heralded the jet age forthe RTAF with the acquisition of T-33s and RT-33s under the United States Military Assistance Programme (MAP). After that, progress knew no boundary and the RTAF eventually evolved into a small compact fighting force.

The Royal Thai Air Force currently consist of 4 Air Divisions with 11 Wings. These 11 wings consist of 26 squadrons and one historical flight (Tango Squadron, based at the most northern airbase Chiang Mai).

Late 2016 a small reorganisation within the Army at Lop Buri saw the Air Mobility Commands becoming Aviation Battalions, the General Support Aviation Battalion became the 41st Aviation Battallion and the Light Wing Aviation Battalion became 21st Aviation Battalion

Source: http://www.rtaf.mi.th/

 

 

 

 

 

The Air Force designation system

The Thai Air Force system to designate aircraft and its serials is unique in the world and if you don't know this system it is hard to comprehend why some aircraft wear such a lot of numbers and what they mean. A Thai aircraft with a number combination like "B.Kh.19-25/38" / "40307" / "90020" is quite common, it only is a hard time when you want to note down the complete serial while the aircraft is flying. The noting down is further complicated for most spotters as the unique serial is written in the Thai language.

For example: An F-16A wears the RTAF serial number บ.ข.๑๙- ๒๕ / ๓๘ (B.Kh.19-25/38):

บ. (B.) means Boh = Aircraft, with (H) for Helicopters.

ข. (Kh.) means Khoh = Fighter which is the primary role of the aircraft.

๑๙ (19) means the 19th fighter type with the air force. This number might be appended by a character to indicate another sub-type.

๒๕ (25) means the 25th F-16A with the air force.

๓๘ (38) means that this particular aircraft was delivered in the Buhdda year 2538 (=1995)

On the aircraft this serial is written in Thai characters. In publications the digits are written Roman style however.

The second number to identify an Air Force aircraft is its squadron code: Mostly a five-digit number is used in which the first three digits indicate the squadron the aircraft is flying for and the last two indicate a unique number within the squadron. The F-16A above is aircraft number 07 with the 403rd Squadron. This code is not unique for a single aircraft. Note that many aircraft like trainer aircraft and helicopters use a different code structure.

The third number often seen is a former American serial, like 90020 for FMS serial 90-7020 on the F-16.

Trainer aircraft generally use two different numbers for code, like "รร.09-37" / "09" in which "09" stands for the 9th aircraft of the type with the Air Force and "37" the last two of the delivery year (Thai).

Below an overview is presented of aircraft identifications used by the Royal Thai Air Force. When known also the period is presented when the aircraft type was active with the air force as well as the total number served.  

ข - Khoh (Kh - Fighter)

serial type service period number
บ.ข.๑ B.Kh.1 Nieuport Type 13m2 2461-2470 1918-1927 4
บ.ข.๒ B.Kh.2 Nieuport Type 15m2 2461-2475 1918-1932 12
บ.ข.๓ B.Kh.3 Spad type 7, 13m2 2461-2474 1918-1931 33
บ.ข.๔ B.Kh.4 Nieuport-Delage 29L-1 2466-2478 1923-1935 12
บ.ข.๕ B.Kh.5 Prachadhipok 2472-? 1929-? 1
บ.ข.๖ B.Kh.6 Bulldog II 2474- ? 1931-? 2
บ.ข.๗ B.Kh.7 Boeing 100 (P.12E) 2474- ? 1931-? 2
บ.ข.๘ B.Kh.8 Heinkel He.45 2474- ? 1931-? 1
บ.ข.๙ B.Kh.9 Hawk II 2477- ? 1934-? 12
บ.ข.๑๐ B.Kh.10 Hawk III 2478- ? 1935-? 62
บ.ข.๑๑ B.Kh.11 Hawk 75N 2480- ? 1937-? 12
บ.ข.๑๒ B.Kh.12 Ki-27 Otsu 2485- ? 1942-? 12
บ.ข.๑๓ B.Kh.13 Ki-43-2 Hayabusa 2486- ? 1943-? 24
บ.ข.๑๔ B.Kh.14 Spitfire Mk.XIVe 2493-2498 1950-1955 30
บ.ข.๑๕ B.Kh.15 F8F-1, F8F-1B 2494-2503 1951-1960 204
บ.ข.๑๖ B.Kh.16 F-84G 2499-2506 1956-1963 31
บ.ข.๑๗ B.Kh.17 F-86F-30 2504-2515 1961-1972 54
บ.ข.๑๗ก B.Kh.17K F-86L 2506-2509 1963-1966 20
บ.ข.๑๘ B.Kh.18 F-5A 2510-curr 1967-curr 18
บ.ข.๑๘ก B.Kh.18K F-5B 2509-curr 1966-curr 7
บ.ข.๑๘ข B.Kh.18Kh F-5E 2521-curr 1978-curr 42
บ.ข.๑๘ค B.Kh.18Kh2 F-5F 2521-curr 1978-curr 6
บ.ข.๑๙ B.Kh.19 F-16A 2531-curr 1988-curr 44
บ.ฃ.๑๙ก B.Kh.19K F-16B 2531-curr 1988-curr 15
บ.ฃ.๒๐ B.Kh.20 F/A-18C cancelled   (4)
บ.ฃ.๒๐ก B.Kh.20K F/A-18D cancelled   (4)
บ.ฃ.๒๐ B.Kh.20 JAS39C 2554-curr 2011-curr 8
บ.ฃ.๒๐ก B.Kh.20K JAS39D 2554-curr 2011-curr 4

 

ขฝ - Khoh/Foh (KhF - fighter/trainer)

serial type service period number
บ.ขฝ.๑ B.KhF.1 L-39ZA/ART 2537-curr 1994-curr 36

 

จ - Jhao (J - Attack)

serial type service period number
บ.จ.๑ B.J.1 Corsair V.93S 2477-2493 1934-1950 112
บ.จ.๒ B.J.2 Ki-30 M103 Nagoya 2483-2494 1940-1951 25
บ.จ.๓ B.J.3 SB2C-5 Helldiver 2494-2498 1951-1955 6
บ.จ.๔ B.J.4 Fairey Firefly F Mk1,FR Mk1 2494-2498 1951-1955 12
บ.จ.๕ B.J.5 OV-10C Bronco 2514-curr 1971-curr 32
บ.จ.๖ B.J.6 A-37B Dragonfly 2515-2538? 1972-1995? 20
บ.จ.๗ B.J.7 Alpha Jet A 2543-curr 2000-curr 20
บ.จธ.๒ B.JTh.2 AU-23A 2515-curr 1972-curr 34
บ.จฝ.๑๓ B.JF.13 AT-28D 2505-2531 1962-1988 80
บ.จล.๒ B.JL.2 AC-47A,B,C,D Spooky 2521-2541? 1978-1998? 14
บ.จล.๙ B.JL.9 GAF Nomad N22B 2525-2559 1982-2016 19

 

ชอ - ThOr

serial type service period number
บ.ชอ.๑ B.ThOr.1 Pazmany PL-2 2517-2532 1974-1989 1

 

ต (T - Observation/Reconnaisance)

serial type service period number
บ.ต.๑ B.T.1 P.54 Survey Prince IIIA 2496-2503 1953-1960 1
บ.ต.๒ B.T.2 Cessna O-1A, E, G Birddog 2510-2533 1967-1990 54
บ.ตข.๑๘ B.TKh.18 RF-5A 2513-curr 1970-curr 4
บ.ตฝ.๑๑ B.TF.11 RT-33A 2498-2539 1955-1996 8
บ.ตล.๒ B.TL.2 RC-47A, B, C, D, Basler BT-67 2530-curr 1987-curr 6
บ.ตล.๖ B.TL.6 Merlin IVC 2522-curr 1979-curr 3
บ.ตล.๗ B.TL.7 IAI Arava EW M201TH 2523-2558 1980-2015 3
บ.ตล.๙ B.TL.9 GAF N22B Nomad 2532-2559 1989-2016 3
บ.ตล.๑๒ B.TL.12 Learjet M35A 2531-curr 1988-curr 2
บ.ตล.๒๐ B.TL.20 Avanti EVO o/o o/o  

 

ท (Th - Bomber)

serial type service period number
บ.ท.๑ B.Th.1 Breguet 14A, 14B 2452-2480 1909-1937 5
บ.ท.๒ B.Th.2 Boripatara 2470-2483 1927-1940 2
บ.ท.๓ B.Th.3 Martin 139WSM B-108 2480-2524 1937-1981 6
บ.ท.๔ B.Th.4 Nakajima MC12-19 2485-2524 1942-1981 9

 

ทอ (ThOr - Bomber)

serial type service period number
บ.ทอ.๑ B.ThOr.2 RTAF-2 2500-2501 2500-2501 1
บ.ทอ.๔ B.ThOr.4 RTAF-4 Chantra 2517-2532 1974-1989 12
บ.ทอ.๕ B.ThOr.5 RTAF-5 2527-2528 1984-1985 1

 

ธ (Th - Utility/Liaison)

serial type service period number
บ.ธ.๑ B.Th.1 Helio U-10A, B, D 2506-2529 1963-1986 20
บ.จธ.๒ B.JTh.2 AU-23A 2515-curr 1972-curr 34

 

ผท (PhTh - Aerial mapping)

serial type service period number
บ.ผท.๑ B.PhT.1 Cessna 411A 2525- ? 1982-? 1
บ.ผท.๒ B.PhT.2 Be Queen Air B80 2525-2529 1982-1986 1
บ.ผท.๒ก B.PhT.2K Be Queen Air A80 2525-2532 1982-1989 1
บ.ผท.๓ B.PhT.3 Be King Air E90 2525-? 1982-? 1
บ.ผท.๔ B.PhT.4 Turbocommander 690A 2525-? 1982-? 1

 

ฝ - Foh (F - Trainer)

serial type service period number
บ.ฝ.๑ B.F.1 Nieuport Type 23m2 2461- ? 1918-? 12
บ.ฝ.๒ B.F.2 Nieuport Type 18m2 2461- ? 1918-? 12
บ.ฝ.๓ B.F.3 Piper PT-1 2471- ? 1928-? 1
บ.ฝ.๔ B.F.4 Avro 504N 2473- ? 1930-? 12
บ.ฝ.๕ B.F.5 Corsair 2482- ? 1939-? 10
บ.ฝ.๖ B.F.6 Tachikawa Ki-36 2485- ? 1942-? 44
บ.ฝ.๗ B.F.7 Miles Magister Mk.I 2490-2495 1947-2952 20
บ.ฝ.๘ B.F.8 AT-6A, B, C, D, F, G 2491-2517 1948-1974 220
บ.ฝ.๙ B.F.9 DHC-1 Chipmunk 2492-2532 1949-1989 66
บ.ฝ.๑๐ B.F.10 DH.82A Tiger Moth Mk2 2494-2504 1949-1961 34
บ.ฝ.๑๑ B.F.11 T-33A Shooting Star 2498- ? 1955-? 46?
บ.ฝ.๑๒ B.F.12 Cessna T-37B 2504-2538? 1961-1995? 22
บ.ฝ.๑๓ B.F.13 T-28D Trojan 2505-2527 1962-1984 40
บ.ฝ.๑๔ B.F.14 Cessna T-41D (R172E) 2511-curr 1968-curr 13
บ.ฝ.๑๕ B.F.15 SIAI-Marchetti SF.260MT,260C/W 2516-2537 1973-1994 12+6
บ.ฝ.๑๖ B.F.16 CT/4A/B Airtrainer 2517-curr 1974-curr 30
บ.ฝ.๑๖ก B.F.16K CT/4E Airtrainer 2542-curr 1999-curr 24
บ.ฝ.๑๗ B.F.17 Chantra 2517-2532 1974-1989 12
บ.ฝ.๑๘ B.F.18 Fantrainer 400 2531-2541 1988-1998? 5
บ.ฝ.๑๘ก B.F.18K Fantrainer 600 2531-2541 1988-1998? 15
บ.ฝ.๑๙ B.F.19 Pilatus PC-9 2534-curr 1991-curr 22
บ.ฝ.๒๐ B.F.20 Diamond DA42 2552-curr 2009-curr 6

 

พ (Ph - civil)

serial type service period number
บ.พ.๑ B.Ph.1 Cessna 150H 2531-curr 1988-curr 4

 

ร (R - Glider)

serial type service period number
บ.ร.๑ B.R.1 Hoffman H-36 Dimona 2526-2537 1983-1994 10
บ.ร.๒ B.R.2 Grob G.109 2532-2537 1989-1994 ?

 

Kuabkum (K - Controll)

serial type service period number
  B.K.1 Saab 340AEW 2553-curr 2010-curr 2

 

ล - Loh (L - Transport)

serial type service period number
บ.ล.๑ B.L.1 Beechcraft C-45B, C-45F 2490-2502 1947-1959 7
บ.ล.๒ B.L.2 C-47A,B,C,D Skytrain 2489-curr 1946-curr 32
บ.ล.๓ B.L.3 C-54 Skymaster 2503-2503 1960-1960 2
บ.ล.๔ B.L.4 C-123B Provider 2507-2532 1964-1989 22
บ.ล.๔ก B.L.4K C-123K Provider 2516-2542 1973-1999 20
บ.ล.๕ B.L.5 BAe748-208 2508-2559 1965-2016 7
บ.ล.๖ B.L.6 Swearingen Merlin IVA 2521-2525 1978-1982 2
บ.ล.๘ B.L.8 C-130H, C-130H-30 2523-curr 1980-curr 12
บ.ล.๙ B.L.9 GAF N22B Nomad 2525-2559 1982-2016 19
บ.ล.๑๐ B.L.10 DC-8-62AF 2525-2532 1982-1989 3
บ.ล.๑๑ B.L.11 B737-2Z6 2526-2556 1983-2013 1
บ.ล.๑๑ก B.L.11K B737-3Z6 2533-2536 1990-1993 1
บ.ล.๑๑ข B.L.11Kh B737-4Z6 2538-curr 1995-curr 1
บ.ล.๑๑ค B.L.11Kh2 B737-8Z6 2550-curr 2007-curr 1
บ.ล.๑๓ B.L.13 A310-324 2534-2559 1991-2016 1
บ.ล.๑๔ B.L.14 Alenia G.222 2538-2554 1995-2011 6
บ.ล.๑๕ B.L.15 Airbus 319-115CJ 2547-curr 2004-curr 1
บ.ล.๑ B.L.15K? A320-214CJ1 (Thai type designation to be confirmed) 2558-curr 2015-curr 1
บ.ล.๑๖ B.L.16 ATR72-212A 2552-curr 2009-curr 4
บ.ล.๑๗ B.L.17 Saab 340B 2553-curr 2010-curr 2
บ.ล.๑๘ B.L.18 SSJ100-95LR 2559-curr 2016-curr 2
บ.ล.tbd B.L.tbd A340-541 o/o o/o 1

 

ว (W - UAV)

serial type service period number
บ.ว.๑ B.W.1 Slyeye Type R4E-30 ? - ? ? - ? 6

 

ส (S - Liaison)

serial type service period number
บ.ส.๑ B.S.1 Fairchild 24J, 24K 2481-2498 1938-1955 7
บ.ส.๒ B.S.2 Rearwin M9000KRT Deluxe 2481-2498 1938-1955 2
บ.ส.๓ B.S.3 Piper L-4J, L-4H 2490-2502 1947-1959 38
บ.ส.๓ก B.S.3K Piper PA-11 Cub Special 2492-2505 1949-1962 2
บ.ส.๔ B.S.4 Stinson L-5, L-5B 2490-2502 1947-1959 38
บ.ส.๕ B.S.5 Beechcraft M35 Bonanza 2494-2497 1951-1954 2
บ.ส.๖ B.S.6 Grumman Widgeon JRF.5 2494-2499 1951-1956 6
บ.ส.๗ B.S.7 Cessna 170B 2497-2502 1954-1959 9

 

ฮ - Hoh (H - Helicopter)

serial type service period number
ฮ.๑ H.1 Westland Dragonfly srs.1A 2493-2497 1950-1954 3
ฮ.๑ก H.1K Sikorsky YH-5A 2494-2497 1951-1954 1
ฮ.๒ H.2 Hiller 360X 2493-2495 1950-1952 1
ฮ.๒ก H.2K Hiller UH-12B 2495-2505 1952-1962 4
ฮ.๓ H.3 Sikorsky S-55 (H-19A) 2497-2508 1954-1965 8
ฮ.๔ H.4 Sikorsky S-58 (H-34B) 2505-2519 1962-1976 65
ฮ.๔ก H.4K Sikorsky S-58T Twinpack 2505-2546 1962-2003 19
ฮ.๕ H.5 Kaman HH-43B Huskie 2505-2513 1962-1970 4
ฮ.๖ H.6 Bell UH-1H Huey 2511-curr 1968-curr 37
ฮ.๖ก H.6K Bell UH-1N 2519-2542 1976-1999 2
ฮ.๖ข H.6Kh Bell 412 2525-curr 1982-curr 2
ฮ.๖ค H.6Kh2 Bell 412(HP)SP 2534-curr 1991-curr 3
ฮ.๖ง H.6KNg Bell 412EP 2541-curr 1998-curr 8
ฮ.๗ H.7 OH-13H Sioux 2515-2515 1972-1972 9
ฮ.๘ H.8 Bell 206B-3 2538-curr 1995-curr 9
ฮ.๙ H.9 AS332L-2 2539-curr 1996-curr 9
ฮ.๑๐ H.10 S-92 2554-curr 2011-curr 3
ฮ.๑๑ H.11 H225M 2559-curr 2016-curr 6

 

ฮผฑ (HPhT - Mapping Helicopter)

serial type service period number
ฮผฑ.๑ HPhT.1 Bell 206B Jet Ranger II 2525-curr 1982-curr 1
ฮผฑ.๒ HPhT.2 Kawasaki-Bell 47G-3B-114 2525-2525 1982-1982 1

 

Group unknown

  #.1 Breguet 111 2456-2461 1913-1918 3
  #.2 Nieuport IIN/IVG 2456-2461 1913-1918 4


 

The Navy designation system

Around 2010 the Thai Navy started to use its own type designation system, comparable to the system used by the Air Force.
The names are deduced from the primary role of each aircraft

The Navy uses a serial system which always includes the operational squadron. Often the FMS serial number, construction number or Bureau Numbers are also carried on the aircraft. For example:
1407/159288 is an A-7E of 104sq U Tapao
2313 is a Westland Lynx 203sq U Tapao
 

 

ขล (KL - Fighter)

Type type service period number
บ.ขจ.๑ B.KL.1 AV8S     9
บ.ขจ.๑ก B.KL.1K TAV8S     2

 

จต (HT - Attack)

type type service period number
บ.จต.๑ B.HT.1 A-7E/TA-7C?     14/4

 

ตช (TCh - Observation)

type type service period number
บ.ตช.๑ B.TCh.1 Ce T337H-SP/T337G 2523-curr 1980-curr 12/2

 

ตผ (TPh - Anti surface ships)

type type service period number
บ.ตผ.๑ B.TPh.1 F-27-200Mar 2530-2557? 1987-2014? 3
บ.ตผ.๒ก B.TPh.2K UP-3T 2539-curr 1996-curr 1
บ.ตผ.๒ข B.TPh.2Kh P-3T 2539-curr 1996-curr 2
ฮ.ตผ.๑ H.TPh.1 Super Lynx 300 2548-curr 2005-curr 2

 

ธก (TK - Administration)

type type service period number
บ.ธก.๑ B.TK.1 CL215T 2521-curr 1978-curr 2
บ.ธก.๒ B.TK.2 N24A 2527-curr 1984-curr 5

 

ลล (LL - Transport)

type type service period number
บ.ลล.๑ B.LL.1 F-27-400 2530-curr 1987-curr 2
บ.ลล.๒ B.LL.2 ERJ-135LR 2551-curr 2008-curr 2
ฮ.ลล.๑ H.LL.1 UH-1D?     4
ฮ.ลล.๒ H.LL.2 Bell 212 2521-curr 1978-curr 6
ฮ.ลล.๓ H.LL.3 Bell 214ST 2530-curr 1987-curr 5
ฮ.ลล.๔ H.LL.4 S-76B 2539-curr 1996-curr 4
ฮ.ลล.๕ H.LL.5 MH-60S 2554-curr 2011-curr 2

 

ลว (LW - Reconnaissance)

type type service period number
บ.ลว.๑ B.LW.1 Do228-212 2534-curr 1991-curr 7

 

ปด (PD – Anti submarine)

type type service period number
ฮ.ปด.๑ H.PD.1 S-70B-7 2540-curr 1997-curr 6

 

The Army designation system

Also the Army has a designation system of its own, based on the name given by the manufacturer, the role the aircraft is used in and the letter for aircraft (B) or helicopter (H).
Credit:Apichart
 

 

J-series

Type type
H.J-1 AH-1F

 

L-series

Type type
H.L-47 CH-47A

 

T-series

Type type
B.T-200 Beech 200
B.T-212 C212
B.T-1900 Beech 1900
H.T-1 UH-1H
B.T-41 Jetstream 41
H.T-47 CH-47D
H.T-55 TH-55A
H.T-206 Bell 206
H.T-60 UH-60L/S.70A
H.T-212 Bell-212
H.T-300 H269C

 

Unknown allocation

Type type
  Mi-17
  UH-72A
  ERJ135
  AW139
  H145M
  C295
  Enstrom 480
  AS550