Replacement for F-16 fighter jets, L-39s trainers; upgrade of Saab Early Warning System; purchase of transport, VIP, helicopters and unmanned aircraft besides spy satellites figure in the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) White Paper 2020 released today.
Procurement plans stretching into the next decade include new combat aircraft to replace the RTAF’s F-5, F-16, L-39s light attack, replacement of 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.
The F-16A/B replacement involves one squadron of 12 multi-role aircraft being procured through FY 2028-31 (Phase 1 for six aircraft) and FY 2030-33 (Phase 2 for six aircraft) funding.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to replace the current U1 platform and a new helicopter type to replace the Bell 412 are in the pipeline. A military satellite program is also included in the program.
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 air-frames. No funding level has been decided.
The RTAF will be tasked to develop an indigenous armed UAV for reconnaissance and combat capabilities with funding being spread over the 6 fiscal years from 2023 to 2027.
The Procurement of six DA-40 training aircraft along with relevant ground support equipment, Spares and training with funds from years 2025 to 2026 is on the books for the replacement of CT-4B training aircraft to be decommissioned in 2026.In an attempt to replace ageing CT-4E training aircraft in 2031 , 24 training aircraft with corresponding spares and training will be acquired with the payment obligated over a 6 year period from 2026 to 2029.
The RTAF plans to purchase 3 helicopters for the Royal family and Royal missions with funds allocated over a period of 3 years from 2026 to 2028.
The purchase of additional 2 medium sized transport aircraft is planned as replacement of SAAB 340B to maintain airlift capabilities with the funds obligated from 3 yearly budgets from 2027 to 2029.