Aviation in Thailand came into being during
the reign of King Rama VI. On February 6, 1911, Mr.Charles
Van Den Born, a Belgian pilot made the first flight demostration
of the biplane "Henry Farman IV" at Sra Pathum
Racecourse. Field Marshal His Royal Highness Prince Nakhon
Jaisri Suradej, the Minister of War, and Field Marshal His
Royal Highness Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, Army Chief
of Staff, realized the importance of military aviation in
France and also confirmed the necessity for Thailand to
have the airplane as a military tool. The Aviation Unit
was then established in the Army at Sra Pathum Airfield
and the following Army officers were selected to attend
aviation course in France:
1. Major Luang Sakdi Salyavudh
2. Captain Luang Arvudhsikikorn
3. Lieutenant Thip Ketudat
they were in training, the Ministry of War ordered three
Breguet biplanes and four Nieuport monoplanes from France.
Later, Chao Phraya Apai Bhubet (Chum Aphaivong) donated
a fourth Breguet to the Ministry of War, bringing the
number to eight aircraft. The test flight was made in
France by the first three Thai pilots and the aircraft
were shipped to Thailand.
of Aviation Section:
After the three officers graduated
and returned to Thailand on November 2, 1913, the Ministry
of War set up the Aviation Section (Army Aviation Unit)
in December of the same year, under the command of General
Prince Purachatra Jayakara, Inspector General. The foundation
in aviation both in flying training and aeronautical engineering
was laid by these three officers. The Royal Thai Air Force
thus acknowledges them as its Pioneers and Founding Fathers.
First Public Test Flight:
On December 29, 1913,
the first public test flight was made at Sra Pathum Airfield.
Field Marshal Prince Kamphaengbejra Agrayodhin, Inspector
General of the Royal Engineers, Field Marshal Prince Chakrabongse,
Army Chief of Staff, and a great number of crowds, viewed
of the Aviation Section to Don Muang:
aviation developped, Sra Pathum Airfield was deemed too
small and inconvenient. The Army Aviation Unit was decided
to relocate from a small and swampy Sra Pathum Airfield
to higher ground at Don Muang. Thus, in early 1915, the
Army supply Department began construction of hangars,
airfields and housing as well as all necessary facilities.
After completion, all these facilities were transfered
to Lieutenant Colonel Phraya Chalerm Arkas for use as
the new home of the Aviation Unit. The relocation of the
Aviation Unit was completed and resumed operations on
March 17, 1915.
By the order of the Ministry
of War dated March 27, 1915, the Aviation Unit was upgraded
to the Army Air Corps and the following three officers
were assigned as the Commander and the Assistant Commander
1. Lieutenant Colonel Phraya
Chalerm Arkas, Commander of the Army Aviation Division.
2. Major Luang Arvudhsikikorn,
3. Captain Luang Thayanpikart,
Organization of the Army Air Corps:
(27 March 1915 - 18 March 1918)
- Ministry of Defense
- Chief of Staff, Royal Siamese Army
- Engineer Adjutant
- Army Air Corps
- Flying Unit, Flying Training School, Aeronautical
Visit of His Majesty King Vajiravudh to the Army Aviation
Division at Don Muang:
On December 2, 1916, His Majesty
the King Vajiravudh graciously visited the Army Air Division.
His Majesty spent time there to view the air demonstration
and toured of the maintenance facilities and the Flying
Training School. Before returning to Bangkok, His Majesty
expressed his appreciation through General Prince Burachatra,
Engineer Adjutant, saying:
"Today I have witnessed
the remarkable progress of our aviation history. A universally
accepted fact is that aviation is one area of technology
that requires exceptional ability. To observe that this
undertaking has been carried out entirely by Thais, without
foreign assistance whatsoever, is a source of utmost pride"
The Combat Exercise
The Army Aviation Unit had an
opportunity to participate in the Great Combat Exercise
held during late February to early March 1916, under the
direction of Field Marshal Prince Chakrabongse, Army Chief
of Staff Command.
Mission in World
In August 1916, World War I
broke out between the Axis; England, France and Russia.
In the early period of the War, His Majesty King Vajiravudh
wished to remain neutral. However, after a thorough considerations
of the national interests, he then decided to send an
expeditionary force to join with the Allied Forces on
July 22, 1917.
The expeditionary force headed
by Major Thayanpikart (Thip Ketudat) composed of 1,250
men from the Army Air Corps and Transport Corps in which
the Army four hundred were from the Army Air Corps. At
last the Allied Forces won the war on November 11, 1918
and the Peace Treaty was then signed.
After the war, procurement of
approximately 15 aircraft such as the new Nieuports (23
m2, 18 m2, 15 m2, 13 m2), Spad and Breguet 24 was made
to lay down a strong foundation for the Royal Thai Air
The Army Air Division:
The Ministry of Defense order
dated March 19, 1918 created "Army Air Division"
which had the following units under its command.
1. Air Wings
2. Army Flying Training School
3. Aeronautical Workshops
from Army Air Division to Air Division:
The Ministry Defense realized
the importance of air power not only for military purposes
but also for other areas for example, commercial aviation
and transportation. Therefore, being called "Army
Aeronautical Department" did not entirely cover the
mission, the Ministry of Defense issued an order dated
1 December 1921 changing the name of "Army Air Division"
and "Army Flying Group" to"Air Division"
and "Flying Group".
Our Own Aircraft:
From the organization of the Flying
Section to the Army Aviation Division, Lieutenant Coloel
Phra Chalerm Arkas saw the three existing aircraft were
insufficient. Daily flights would eventually wear down
these aircraft. Maintenance and procurement of spareparts
would be all the more difficult to obtain. Thailand, at
the time, lacked necessary equipments for the purpose
of logistical supports. A self-reliance techniques were
employed towards the objctive of building Thailand's own
On May 24, 1915, Lieutenant Colonel
Phra Chalerm Arkas, Commander of Army Aviation Division,
made a test flight of the Army built Breguet biplane.
It was built to meticulous scale using local material.
In 1922,Fighter aircraft Type F-2 (Nieuport
15 square meters) was built.
In 1923,Fighter aircraft Type F-3 (Spad
type 7) was built.
In 1924, Fighter aircraft Type F-4
(Nieuport Delarge) was built.
In 1927, Bomber aircraft Type B-2 Boripat
was designed and built. A number of these aircraft were
in production. They were used for distant traveling on
diplomatic mission abroad including India.
In 1929, Fighter aircraft Type F-5
(Prachatipok) was designed and built.
In 1936, Attack/Surveilance aircraft
Type A-1 (Corsair V-93S) were built altogether 29 aircraft.
In 1937, Attack/Surveillance aircraft
Type A-1, second production were built altogether 25 aircraft.
Additional Fighter aircraft Type F-10 first production
were built altogether 25 aircraft.
In 1939, Fighter aircraft Type F-10
second production were built altogether 25 aircraft.
In 1974, Trainer aircraft Type RTAF
4 (Chandra) were built altogether 12 aircraft.
In 1976, production of model aircraft
Type RTAF 5 was built.
In 1982, Trainer aircraft Type T-18a
(Fantrainer) and its production rights were purchased
from Germany. Altogether 25 aircraft were built.
First Flight to French Indochina:
On October 22, 1922, the Royal Thai
Goverment dispatched four Breguets aircraft to French
Indochina on friendship mission in return of an earlier
visit made by that country on November 22, 1921. The Thai
representative completed his mission, laid wreath and
commemorative plaque in remembrance of the French soldiers
who died in World War I at the monument in Hai Phong.
The route taken on that mission was Don Muang - Nakhon
Ratchasima - Roi Et - Nakhon Phanom Via Hanoi.
Flight to French Indochina:
On December 31,
1930, the Ministry of War ordered the Air Division to
dispatch three Boripat aircraft to Frence Indochina on
another friendship mission using the same route to deliver
the Royal Thai Government's communique to the French Indochina
Government in Hanoi. Lieutenant General Phraya Chalerm
Arkas was the flight director.
On November 23, 1929, the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs delivered an invitation from the Government
of India to Ministry of War for His Majesty the King Prachatipok's
Government to send a military aircraft on an official
visit. The Ministry of War accepted the invitation, sending
3 Thai built Boripat aircraft on December 22, 1929. The
Flight Director's aircraft (Lieutenant Colonel Luang Neramitr
Paichayont) however encountered some difficulties and
was forced to land in a forest area of Uthai Thani Province.
Two other aircraft had to deliver the news of the incident.
And again on December 24,1929, two Boripat aircraft took
off from Don Muang via Rangoon arriving at their destination
on January 1930. The return trip started on January 8,
and arrived back in Thailand on January 17 of the same
From Air Force
Division to the Royal Thai Air force:
On April 9, 1937, the Air Force Division
was designated the Royal Thai Air Force by the Ministry
of War, reporting directly to the Minister of War.
On April 27, 1937, a Royal Decree appointed
Group Captain Phra Vechayanrangsarit (Muni Mahasantana),
Director of the Air Force, as the Commander-in-Chief;
Group Captain Phra Silpasakrakorn (Pakdi Ketsamlee), Deputy
Director of the Air Force, as Deputy Commander-in-Chief;
and Group Capatain Luang Kajsongkram, Staff Officer of
the Air force, as Chief of the Air Staff.
The Royal Thai
Air Force in Combat Mission:
French Indochina Conflict:
The Royal Thai Air Force combat operations
during the Indochina conflict included aerial warfare,
ground attack, maritime war and air land battle. Air superiority
over the theatre was achieved promoting the fame of the
Royal Thai Air Force and three Royal Thai Air Force offcers
were later awarded gallantry medals and twenty-four officers
with bravery medals.
World War II and Heroic Deed
at Wing 5:
On December 8, 1941, at dawn, the Japanese
forces invaded the eastern part of Thailand. Sentoki fighter
aircraft attacked Wattana Nakhon Airfield, damaing the
control tower, buildings and the runway. The other point
of invasion was Wing 5, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
Officers, enlisted men and conscripts numbering 120 under
the command of Wing Commander Mom Luang Prawas Jumsai
withstood the attack with bravery. Over four hundred Japanese
soldiers were killed while fourty men at Thai side died
in the battle and only four suffered casualties. The fighting
went on until the Government ordered a cease fire.
On September 22, 1950, the Thai Government
despatched forces to assist UN military operations in
the Korea. The RTAF despatched three task force contingents
to South Korea as follows:
1. The first of the twenty-two Air
Liaison Officers Team was sent to the United Nations Command
2. The first of the twenty-nine Air
Nursing Team conducted its mission from December 26, 1950
3. Twenty nine RTAF airlift mission
teams conducted their missions from 1951-1971.
On July 21, 1964, the Thai Government
decided to render military assistance to the Vietnamese
Government sending 17 RTAF pilots and personnel to conduct
missions in the Republic of Vietnam. The contingent departed
Thailand on September 29, 1964. This first contingent
was named the "Victory Flying Unit" and the
Thai pilots flew the C-47 aircraft and worked with Squadron
413, Wing 33 of the Vietnames Air Force.
The cabinet later ordered the RTAF
to despatch an additional group of pilot and other personnel
assigned to the Victory Flying Unit on July 29, 1966.
They flew the C-123 aircraft and also conducted operational
mission with USAF pilots of the 19th Tactical Airlift
Squadron of the United States Air Force. The team continuously
conduct the mission until the seventh team returned to
Thailand on December 15, 1971.
Besides, the various operations in
the aforementioned mission. The RTAF also despatched Cambodia
during period of communist expansionism is these two countries.
Thai Government's decision to send troops to join the
United Nations forces in Korea, the United States has
favourably considered increasing military assistance to
the Thai Government. In September 1950, the first team
of Joint Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) headed by
Colonel McNock, Chief of Army, Commander Fay, Chief of
Navy and Colonel Shrock, Chief of Air Force were assigned
their posts in Thailand.
On October 17, 1950, Field Marshal
P. Phiboonsongkram, the Thai Prime Minister and the Unitd
States Ambassador signed an agreement on military assistance
from the United States to Thailand. According to this
agreement, RTAF would receive various types of aircraft
such as T-33, F-84G and F-86F.
Besides the aforementioned assistance,
the RTAF received education and training assistance from
other friend countries. The RTAF sends personnel to attend
various foreign institutions such as the Air Force Academy.
Command and Staff College and the Armed Force Staff College
in the United States. Japan, Australia, Germany, United
Kingdom, Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia, France, Malaysia,
Philippines and India.
In 1974, the
Thai Government planned to utilize the area on the westside
of Don Muang Airport to develop into the International
Airport. Therefore, the RTAF Headquarters was moved to
the new area which is on the east side of the airport
on March 22, 1983.
The first RTAF memorial was built during
1917-1920. At first, there was no official name but it
had been known to the RTAF personnel as "The Aviator
Memorial." In 1948, the RTAF expanded part of its
Headquarters, which dwarfed "The Aviation Memorial."
The Directorate of Civil Engineering redesigned the memorial
to a more august dimension. In 1983, the RTAF Headdquarters
moved to its present location on the east side of Don
Muang Airport. It was decided to move the old memorial
from its old site on the west side of the airport to its
new location near the new Headquaters building on the
west side on March 24, 1983. The dedication ceremony of
the memorial coincided with the opening ceremony for the
RTAF Headquarters on March 27, 1983 Air Force Day.
of the Royal Statue of the Royal Statue and the Busts
of tge RTAF Founding Fathers:
In 1913, Field Marshal His Royal Highness
Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanart first established aviation
in Thailand and continued to lead the way in developing
His statue was designed and located in front of the Department
of Civil Aviation (or Airport Authorities of Thailand).
Later the RTAF constructed the busts of Air Marshal Phraya
Chalerm Arkart, Group Captain Phraya Vehasayarn and Group
Captain Phraya Tayarnpikart. These three important men
were the pioneers and founding fathers of the RTAF. They
accomplished much and built the RTAF to what it is today.
The busts are located near Chandrubeksa Stadium and the
opening ceremony of the three busts was on March 27, 1957
(Present location is in RTAF Headquarters area facing
to Air Academy School).
of the Royal Statue of Somdech Prasrinagarindra Boromarajajonani:
The gracious Somdech Prasrinagarindra
Boromarajajonani regularly offered her services to benefit
not only the affluent, but also the underprivileged-spreading
happiness to all. She initiated a programme to send volunteer
doctors out into remote areas of the country to help those
who do not receive regular medical care. Because the RTAF
is assigned to provide airlift support for the said programme
the RTAF decided to commemorate her sponsorship of this
programmme , and this demonstration of her great love
for her country and her people, by constructing a bronze
statue which is now honored by being displayed in front
of the RTAF Headquarters.
His Majesty the King of Thailand graciously
designated HRH the Crown Prince of Thailand to preside
over the opening ceremony of the Royal Statue on November
Thai Air Force Today:
Mission of the Royal
Thai Air Force is to prepare and employ air power in defence
of the Kingdom of Thailand.
The RTAF comprises of 5 groups as follows,
Office of the RTAF Secretariat
Directorate of Administrative Services
Directorate of Personnel
Directorate of Intelligence
Directorate of Operations
Directorate of Logistics
Office of the RTAF Comptroller
Directorte of Air Inspection
Office of the RTAF Information Technology
Air Combat Command
- 1st. Air Division
- 2nd. Air Division
- 3rd. Air
- 4nd. Air Division
of Air Operation Control
- RTAF Security
Logistics Support Group:
- Directorate of Aeronautical Engineering
- Directorate of Communication and Electronics
of Aerial Reconnaissance
- Directorate of Medical Services
of Quarter Master
of Civil Engineering
and Training Group:
Education and Training Command:
Directorate of Education and Training
of Higher Education
- RTAF Academy
and Weapon System Development Centre
of RTAF Audit
of Donmuang RTAF Base Commander
The Royal Thai Air Force and
Support for Royally-Initiated
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
( Rama IX) of Thailand always has determination to assist
his subjects, alleviate distress, and bring happiness
to them ever since the early days of his reign. Thus,
numerous royally-initiated projects took shape following
His Majessty's initiatives. The Royal Thai Air Force plays
a vital role in supporting some of these projects.
The Royal Rainmaking
The Royal Thai Air Force has played
an important role in the Royal Rainmaking Project since
1972 by providing aircraft to support the Ministry of
Agricuture and Cooperatives' Rainmaking Projects. A Royal
Rainmaking Operation Flying Unit was established consisting
of various types of aircraft such as C-47, C-123K, AU-23
and Nomad. On the auspicious occasion of the Fiftieth
Anniversary Celebrations (Golden Jubilee) of His Majesty's
Accession to the Throne, The Air Force has been developing
these aircraft for higher capability in rainmaking in
order to fulfill the Royal Project and as a tribute to
His Majesty - "The Great Developer
King of the Thai nation."
For The Royal Initiatives:
solve flood problems, His Majesty the King expressed his
wish to the Royal Thai Air Force for aerial photos of
topographical conditions in Bangkok areas and its suburbs
including watershed areas for problem solving. The Royal
Thai Air Force responded to his wish by providing aircraft
and helicopters to take photos. His Majesty the King expressed
his appreciation to all working personnel and air crews.
Conservation of Forests
honor His Majesty the King, the Royal Thai Air Force has
followed the course of the Royal Initiatives by conducting
a variety of environmental development activities. These
include: Reforestation Projects with Royal Thai Air Force
areas, Reforestation in the National Botanic Park and
the Public Park in Wattana Nakorn District, Saraburi Province,
and the Coral Reef Conservation Project at Wing 53 in
Prachuab Khiri Khan Province. In addition, the Royal Thai
Air Force, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture
and Cooperatives, has provided observation aircraft survey
forest areas throughout the country and monitor their
Royal Thai Air Force For the Nation and the People:
Thai Air Force realizes that the importance of air power
will defend our sovereignty, monarchy and national interest
as well as the prosperity of the people of Thailand.
To confront future threats, modern
combat aircraft must be able to accomplish their assigned
missions both strategically and tactically. They must
be able to use air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons effectively.
Therefore, the modern versions must be multi-role fighters
such as the F-16 A/B which is in service in the Royal
Thai Air Force. Additionally, capabilities of the modern
versions include operating around-the-clock and prolonging
their flight for 3.5-5 hours in
order to increase their potential as a force multiplier.
Operations with the support of tankers, are also in future
In addition to fighters, other
types of aircraft, such as airborne early warning (AEW)
aircraft, and takers are also needed in order to accomplish
the mission. The Air Force has planned to procure new
aircraft and upgrade those aircraft currently in service
to have the capabilities mentioned above.
March 27, 1915, the Army Aviation Unit was organized as
the Army Air Corps. The Royal Thai Air Force celebrates
this date as "Air Force Commemoration Day."
On March 29,
1918, the Army Air Corps was upgraded to Army Air Division.
On December 1, 1921, the Ministry
of War realized that the role of the Army Air Division
was no longer limited to army affairs; its name was thus
changed to the Aeronautical Department.
On April 12,
1935, the Aeronautical Department became the Air Force
Division, reporting directly to the Minister of Defence.
On April 9, 1937, the Air Force Division was designated
the Royal Thai Air Force. This day is commemorated as
"Air Force Day."
speaking, Thai aviation started with only three pilots
and eight aircraft at Sra Phathum Airfield or presently
the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. Since
the aviation developed, Sra Phathum Airfield was deemed
too small and inconvenient. The three Pioneers and Founding
Fathers therefore relocated the airfield to Don Muang
for its site and location were more suitable.
The Ministry of War realized that aviation
had an important role not only in military but also in
civil activities. The role of the Army Air Division was
no longer limited to army affairs, its name was thus changed
to the Aeronautical Department. On April 12, 1935, the
Aeronautical Department became the Air Force Division,
reporting directly to the Minister of Defence and finally
it was designated the Royal Thai Air Force on April 9, 1937.