The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has decommissioned two Lockheed Martin F-16 multirole fighter aircraft and its last five Aero Vodochody L-39ZA Albatross lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT)/light attack aircraft. The ceremony was held at Chiang Mai air base and attended by RTAF Commander-in-Chief Air Chief Marshal Airbull Suttiwan. No reason for the retirement has been disclosed but it is likely that the two airframes suffered from fatigue issues. According to local media, additional F-16s could be withdrawn from service in the near term.
The Royal Thai Air Force 1st Wing retired one F-16A Block 15 (serial number 10207) assigned to 102 Squadron and an F-16B Block 15 (10321) assigned to 103 Squadron. The Royal Thai Air Force ordered atotal of 54 F-16A/B Fighting Falcon aircraft. It received a further 7 F-16A/B aircraft as a donation from Singapore in exchange for the use of training facilities in Thailand by the Republic of Singapore Air Force. In October of 2010 the Thai government decided to give the 18 airframes that are operational within 403 sqn the MLU update. This will extend the aircraft’s life up to 2035.
The following day the Royal Thai Air Force decommissioned its last five L-39ZA aircraft, which were assigned to the 41st Wing’s 411 Squadron, after more than 27 years operating the type. The RTAF originally procured 40 L-39ZAs, with the first aircraft delivered in 1993. In September 2015 the RTAF selected the Korea Aerospace Industries T-50TH LIFT/light attack aircraft for the first phase of the L-39ZA replacement programme. The first four aircraft were delivered in January 2018 to 401 Squadron, which had already transferred its remaining L-39s to 411 Squadron in late 2017.
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta. The Aero L-39 Albatros is a high-performance jet trainer developed in Czechoslovakia by Aero Vodochody. It was designed during the 1960s as a replacement for the Aero L-29 Delfín as a principal training aircraft. It was the first trainer aircraft to be equipped with a turbofan powerplant.