Royal Thai Air Force Buys Fleet Of Beechcraft T-6 Trainers

The $162 million purchase of a dozen T-6 trainers is part of a modernization plan to develop the Thai defense industry.

The Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF) new fleet Beechcraft T-6TH Texan II training aircraft currently under production is nearing the end of the assembly line, according to aircraft designer and manufacturer Textron Aviation Defense LLC.

In October 2020, RTAF awarded a $162 million contract for 12 of the T-6 military training aircraft, which will be designated as Beechcraft AT-6TH in Thailand, as part of a modernization plan underway aiming to develop the Thai defense industry. The contract also includes ground-based training systems for pilots, a mission planning and debrief system, spare parts, and ground support equipment. 

The aircraft are on schedule and nearing manufacturing completion and are also ahead of schedule when it comes to passing technical inspection milestones, Wichita, Kansas-based Textron Aviation Defense said Thursday.

“These aircraft will equip our students with a significant technological advantage in preparation for their transition to advanced fighter and attack aircraft.”

RTAF Air Chief Marshal Chanon Mungthanya

The aircraft are expected to arrive at the Royal Thai Air Force Flying Training School between late 2022 and early 2023, the company said. The flight training school is at Kamphaeng Saen Air Base, which is located about 60 miles northwest of Bangkok.

“The Royal Thai Air Force is eager to equip its cadre of student pilots with the Beechcraft T-6TH Texan II aircraft,” Betsy Relph, the Textron Aviation Defense T-6 program manager for Thailand, said in a statement.

Recently, RTAF Air Chief Marshal Chanon Mungthanya traveled to Wichita to fly the T-6.

“Flying the RTAF Beechcraft T-6TH Texan II from the historic hangar where the entire global fleet of T-6 aircraft are manufactured was a very memorable milestone,” Mungthanya said. “These aircraft will equip our students with a significant technological advantage in preparation for their transition to advanced fighter and attack aircraft.”

News of the manufacturing progress of the T-6 aircraft follows a recent announcement that RTAF is also buying eight Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine aircraft. The $143 million purchase announced Nov. 13 makes Thailand the first international customer for the U.S. Air Force’s latest light attack aircraft, Textron Aviation Defence said. 

“We are honored the Royal Thai Air Force has competitively selected the Beechcraft AT-6 to conduct a broad array of missions in support of its border security and its anti-smuggling, counter-narcotics and anti-human trafficking operations,” Thomas Hammoor, president and chief executive officer of Textron Aviation Defense, said at the time of the announcement. “The RTAF is a key U.S. security ally and operator of one of the most advanced air forces in Asia Pacific.”

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