The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) marked a significant milestone in its aviation capability with a grand commissioning ceremony for twelve T-6TH (Beechcraft T-6C Texan II) trainer aircraft. The ceremony, held at RTAF Flying Training School Kamphaeng Saen, showcased the RTAF’s commitment to modernizing its training fleet and strengthening its aviation training programs. The commissioning event, which took place on 22 August 2023, marked the culmination of a journey that began ten months earlier with the arrival of the first two T-6TH Texan II training aircraft on November 14, 2022. This latest addition to the RTAF’s fleet comes as part of a phased delivery approach, reflecting the gradual integration of the new training aircraft into the force.
Evident from official images released by the Royal Thai Air Force on August 23, 2023, all twelve T-6TH Texan II training aircraft were prominently displayed on the school’s tarmac. This public display symbolized the RTAF’s successful acquisition of a complete set of twelve T-6TH aircrafts. The commissioning ceremony was further enriched by the inauguration of the new flight simulator training building at the Royal Thai Air Force Aviation School. Air Chief Marshal Alongkorn Wannarot, Commander of the Royal Thai Air Force, took the opportunity to personally experience the T-6C flight simulator. This addition underscores the RTAF’s commitment to embracing cutting-edge training technologies to enhance the skills and readiness of its aviation personnel.
The procurement of the T-6TH training aircraft was realized through a contract signed in October 2020. The contract, amounting to 5,194,994,216.40 baht ($162 million), paved the way for the RTAF to acquire twelve T-6TH training aircraft from Textron Aviation Defense Company, USA. As part of the collaboration, technology transfer to the Thai aviation industry was facilitated, further enriching the nation’s aerospace capabilities. The assembly of the ten remaining T-6TH units took place in Thailand under the expertise of the Thai Aviation Industries Company Limited (TAI), located in Nakhon Sawan Province. This fleet expansion brings about a pivotal transformation in the RTAF’s training landscape. The introduction of the T-6TH training aircraft, totaling twelve units, will facilitate the retirement of the long-serving Pilatus PC-9 training aircraft, which has been in service since 1991. This strategic shift aligns with the RTAF’s plan to phase out the PC-9 fleet between the years 2021 to 2023.
Looking ahead to 2024, the Royal Thai Air Force is set to welcome a fleet of eight Beechcraft AT-6TH Wolverine attack and training aircraft. Designed in conjunction with the T-6TH Texan II, these aircraft will incorporate state-of-the-art technology, further elevating the RTAF’s operational capabilities and training efficacy. As the Royal Thai Air Force continues to modernize and enhance its aviation capabilities, the commissioning of the T-6TH Texan II training aircraft stands as a testament to the nation’s commitment to excellence in aviation education and operational readiness. With the new training aircraft and the upcoming AT-6TH Wolverine fleet, the RTAF is poised to soar to new heights on the wings of advanced technology and strategic vision.