Royal Thai Air Force
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Thailand
Air Force


Current Title: (thai title)
Title in English: Royal Thai Air Force
Abbreviation: RTAF

History

Narrative History:
The present-day LPLAAF is decended from the Aviation Laotienne, which was established by the French and later became the Royal Lao Air Force. Pathet Lao guerrilla forces began to operate a few aircraft from 1960, as did another rebel group led by Kong Le. Kong Le forces were later re-incorporated into the Royal Lao Air Force. The communist take-over in late 1975 resulted in the adoption of the present title.

Detailed Narrative History

Japanese Aircraft in Royal Thai Air Force and Royal Thai Navy Service During World War II

Key Dates:
28 January 1955    Aviation Laotienne first established
1960    Pathet Lao begins to operate aircraft
August 1960    Failed coup attempt by Kong Le
August 1960    Aviation Laotienne renamed Royal Lao Air Force (RLAF)
Spring 1963    Kong Le air arm re-integrated into RLAF
early 1976    Royal Lao Air Force renamed Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force (LPLAAF)

Current Status:
The age of the current equipment as well as a lack of training has turned the Lao People's Air Force into a force in decline. The capabilities of the armed forces, including its air component, are limited. The limited resources available are spent on maintaining the transport and helicopter fleet. As Laos currently has no clearly defined threat against its territorial borders, an increase in defence spending is seen as unlikely.

Future Plans:
No future procurement plans are known.

Markings

National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):
Front-line LPLAAF aircraft carry a simple numerical individual number, eg: '12' for a MiG-21UM. However, the majority of the air forces's strength is made up of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters used in the transport role. These carry civil registrations in the RDPL-xxxxx sequence. The state airline, Lao Aviation, also operates as a transport arm of the air force.

Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
Not used.

Aircraft

Aircraft Designation System(s):
Designation System Explained.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
RTAF

Aircraft NOT Used:
False reports of aircraft on order or in service

Aircraft Losses and Incidents:
See listing on Thai-Aviation.Net.

Organisation


Main Headquarters:
Bangkok.

Current Organisational Structure:
The current organisational structure of the LPLAAF remains unknown, but is believed to follow the Vietnamese pattern of role-specific regiments comprising 2 or 3 squadrons. The steady decline in serviceability of LPLAAF aircraft has meant that many transport tasks are now undertaken by the state-owned airline Lao Airlines.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle:
Table of Orders of Battle

All-Time Flying Units List:
Units list.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
The LPLAAF operates from 5 or 6 main bases, of which only 2 house front-line units. See listing below for details.

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
Apart from the main military air bases, there are also a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country which are frequently used by the Air Force and the semi-military airline Lao Airlines. In 1961 Laos had 25 airstrips capable of taking a C-47.
Military Air Bases Listing

More Information

Books:

Sources Used

Magazines:

World Air Power Journal Vo.8 p.145-146

Websites:

Official RTAF website

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East Asian-Pacific Area Minor Air Forces

Thai Air Force in the Indochina War 1940-41


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First Created: 12 July 2004 - Last Revised: 26 August 2004
Copyright 2004 Jan Forsgren.    e-mail: john@aeroflight.co.uk