กองทัพอากาศไทย - Royal Thai Air Force
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                                        Last update 11-04-2013





   Squadrons wore two-digit unit code painted on aircrafts until 1977,
   when the Air Force was restructured and they received three digits
   designations. A second restructuration took place on 04-05-90
  
followed by a third on 01-10-96. The Wings are under control of Air
   Divisions.














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           1st FIGHTER WING
The Wing was formed by three Squadrons, the 11th (equipped with Lockeed T-33A and RT-33A), the 12th equipped with North American F-86L and the 13th equipped with North American F-86F before the arrival of Northrop F-5s.
The 11th Squadron was renamed later 101st, the 12th to 102nd and the 13th changed to 103nd Squadron
   13th Tactical Fighter Squadron  -  "Lightning"
This was the first unit, based at Don Muang  AFB, to receive the early Freedom Fighters, starting from April 1966; all versions were
 initially attached to the Squadron in 3 flights: Northrop  F-5A, Northrop RF-5A, Northrop F-5B.

   Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast
Northrop F-5A code 1312, US serial 69160 and 1313, US serial 69161 at Don Muang AFB on 16-11-67.

           Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast
                 Northop RF-5A 1342/97157 at Don Muang AFB in February 1976

  Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast
Northop F-5B 1302/38439 at Don Muang AFB, in the background an Hawker
Hunter two-seater on delivery to the Singapore AF.

The 13th Squadron started to move its 16 Freedom Fighters on 17-10-1977 to its new homebase, Korat AFB (an USAF base during the Vietnam war).
Contemporaneously an Air Force restructuration took place and the Squadron was renumbered 103. See below for information about this Squadron.

 103rd Tactical Fighter Squadron  -  "Lightning"

The 103rd Squadron was formed by renaming the 13th TFS upon relocating its eighteen Northrop F-5A, F-5B, RF-5A from Don Muang AFB to Korat AFB on 17-10-1978.

   Photo: unknown
                            Northrop F-5A 10334/10265

              
   Photo: unknown
              Northrop RF-5A 10341/97154 seen in 1982 at an Air Base open-day.

The Squadron participated to several exercises:
Commando West, Air Thai-Sing (now known as Cope Tiger), Thai Boomerang, Thai Kiwi, Cope West, Angels Thunder while operating with Freedom Fighters.

It was the first Thai unit to be re-equipped with F-16A/F-16B Fighting Falcons starting from 13-06-88, but the Northrop fighters were
already transferred to the 231st TFS at Udon Thani AFB in 1986 in order to prepare the Squadron for the much more sophisticated new aircraft.

102nd Tactical Fighter Squadron   - "Starfighters"

                      
      Patch                 Tail badge

Formerly designated 12th Squadron it was inactive for some time after having withdrawn its North American F-86L.

Re-equipement came upon delivery of the first batch of 13 Northrop F-5E and 3 F-5F in June 1978 to Korat AFB, later supplemented in 1979 by 4 Northrop F-5E. First combat ready demostration was staged on 16-08-78; official combat readiness declaration was on 25-09-78.



Northrop F-5E 10232/61674 at Clark AFB
on 13-01-88 for Cope Thunder exercise
                                                      Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

One of the second batch Northrop F-5F was assigned to the Squadron together with seven former USAF F-5E bought in 1988, one of the last mentioned being used for spares recovery only.
The year 1994 saw re-equipment with Aero L-39ZA light attack aircrafts and the transfer of the Northrop fighters to the 711th Squadrons.
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21st WING                   -                211th Tactical Fighter Squadron  -  "Eagle"

         
                                                Old badge on tail       New badge on tail


Cessna A-37B were phased out when the Squadron received its first (formerly 403 Squadron operated) Northrop F-5E, F-5F on 01-04-94 at Ubon Ratchathani AFB.
The 211th Squadron was mainly tasked with the Air Defence of Eastern part of Thailand beginning of the 2000', due to the continous infringement of Thai air space by Vietnamese aircrafts during the Thai-Lao/Vietnamese crise.

           
Northrop F-5F 21105/91692 at Don Muang AFB in January 2007, with first tail insigna
                                                                                            Photo: P. van Weenen
   Photo: unknown
 Dramatic picture of Northrop F-5E 21124/91887 used as a Target Tug

Exercises participation includes "Cope Tiger 98", attended between 08 and 20-02-98 with single-seaters.

All upgraded frames, possibly 13 single- and 3 double-seaters (both locally redesignated Northrop F-5T "Tigris") were delivered to this unit around 2005.

                   Photo: unknown
      Northrop F-5T 21119/91682 at Don Muang AFB 10-01-09 still with old badge on tail

   
 Photo: unknown
In-flight view of upgraded two-seater Northrop F-5 21104 armed with Python 4

                   Photo: unknown
                Northrop F-5T 21128/91697 rolls for take-off with training Sidewinder
                missiles and DACT pod. Note new badge on tail.

The remaining 12
Northrop F-5E and single Northrop F-5B, upon re-equipment of of 701 Squadron with Saab J-39 Gripen, were transferred to the 211 Squadron during the year 2012.

                   
   Photo: unknown
Line-up of 3 former 701 Squadron Northrop F-5E in old colours,
1 Northrop F-5B in new colours, 6 Northrop F-5T (2 in special colours), 2 Northrop F-5F at Ubon Ratchathani AFB during 2012.

Cobra Gold exercises was attended by the Squadrons' Northrop F-5T.

The unit participated to the yearly "Air Thamal" excercise" in May 2014 at least with 1 Northrop F-5T an 2 Northrop F-5F at
RTAFB Korat.

   
    Line-up of Thai Northrop F-5T, F-5F, Malaysian MiG-29, Hawker Hawk.

Combat SAR was demonstrated at
"Air Thamal 265/2016" between 10 and 18 May 2016 excercise in RTAFB Korat by at 5 Northrop F-5T (at least 2), F-5F (at least 1).
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23 Wing           -      231st Tactical Fighter Squadron  -  "Hunter"

            
                                 Patch

Based at Udon Thani AFB it received in 1986 former 103rd Squadron aircrafts : 9 Northrop F-5A, 4 F-5B, 2 RF-5A.
Two additional ex USAF Northrop F-5B were received in 1987.


Northrop F-5A 23133/38371 in SEA camouflage being pushed to its hangar
                                                       Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Entusiast


                   Photo: Guido Bühlmann
Northrop F-5B 23102/400778 at Clark AFB (Philippines) on 13-01-88 without tail insigna


 

Northrop F-5A 23122/01391 seen in December 1992
                                           Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

The Squadron received some former 711 Squadron Northrop F-5E, F-5F in 1993 when this had
transitioned on the General Dynamics F-16.

            
   Former USAF Northrop F-5E 23115/50615 at Don Muang AFB on a "Children Day": 13-01-95
                                                                      Photo: 
archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

Some of its Northrop F-5Es were sent to Chiang Mai AFB to reinforce the 211st TFS during 1998 to face the Lao/Vietnamese troops during this conflict.

All remaining versions of the the Freedom Fighters and 12 Northrop F-5E/F were transferred to the 711st Squadron in 1998, when former German Alpha Jets were received.
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4th WING                            -         403rd Tactical Fighter Squadron  -  "King Cobra"

              
                        Badge on tail         Squadron patch

The 4th Wing has three
operational units additionally: the 401st, 402nd and the 403rd, but only the 403rd has been equipped with the Northrop fighter.
               
Takhli AFB based, formerly Cessna A-37B equipped, the first 8 Tigers for the 403rd TFS were delivered to Don Muang AFB on board a Lockheed C-5A on 14-01-81, officially taken over by the Squadron on January 22nd, 1981. Its main duty was ground-attack.

Sixteen pilots of the 403rd Squadron and 22 ground crew were trained in the USA between March 01st and May 03rd 1981. They participated to "Red Flag 81-3" exercise at Nellis AFB (USA) using 8 new built Tigers (5 Northrop F-5E and 3 F-5F), delivered, with another two, to Don Muang AFB on 28-05-81 by Lockheed C-5A.


Northrop F-5E 40332/61674 at Clark AFB on 13-01-88 for Cope Thunder exercise.
                                                       Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

                
          Northrop F-5F 40301/91693 at Clark AFB on 14-01-88 for Cope Thunder exercise.
                                                                Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

The Tigers were kept in use by the Squadron till 31-03-94, when it started preparing for its re-equipment with General Dynamics F-16A Block 15, transferring them to the 211 Squadron.
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   71st WING      -     711th Tactical Fighter Squadron  -  "Shark"

        Squadron badge showing aggressor role
Reorganisation of the Air Force on 24-09-91 saw the arrival for the 711th Squadron at Surat Thani AB of former 102nd Squadron Northrop F-5E, F-5F, unit at the time equipped with North American OV-10C Bronco.
Another change came in 1998 when all remaining Freedom Fighters of the 231st Squadron were transferred in 1998 to this Squadron;
it had a dual role, air defence and ground attack. Aggressor training role followed later.


Former USAF Northrop F-5E 71134/50615 in company of 71134/61674 photographed at
Surat Thani AFB in January 1999.
              Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast


               
  Photo: unknown
                        Northrop F-5E 711014/61612 photgraphed at its homebase, Surat Thani

The 71st Wing and the 711th Squadron were redesignated 7th Wing and 701st Squadron in February 2000, see below for details.
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                                    7th WING                         -     701st Tactical Fighter Squadron  -  "Shark"

              
 Wing badge
   Old badge on tail     New badge on tail    Squadron badge

The 701st Tactical Fighter Squadron took over in February 2000 former 711 Squadron aircrafts, both of the first and second generation Northrop fighter. Ground attack was now its main role. A flight of four Northrop F-5E/F-5F was regularly detached to Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand).


South-East Asia camouflaged Northrop F-5A 70141/69160, coded SRT

                         Photo: A. Romang
                          Northrop F-5B 70102/40778 Korat AFB on 16-02-04


  Photo: unknown
Last operational Northrop RF-5A seen at Surat Thani AFB in its newest colours, similar to the
Northrop F-5E seen behind. This aircraft helped to assess damages caused by the 2005
Tsunami.
                     
 Photo: unknown
Northrop F-5E 70112/6665 named "Sorik" seen on take-off at Don Muang AFB on 08-01-05.

   Photo: unknown
Northeop F-5E 70143/61672 with new tailbadge at Don Muang AFB on 14-02-12

The remaining 4 Northrop F-5A were decommissioned in 2000, but 3 Northrop F-5B and 1 Northrop RF-5A Freedom Fighters were kept by the unit. The last reconnaissance aircraft (code 7104, serial 69-07158) was in use as instructional frame in January 2006.

                  Photo: Cusak77
Quite unusual photo of an 701st Squadron Northrop F-5E and an F-5B intercepting a Boeing B-52!

Five Northrop F-5E participated to the Air Thamal 2005 edition (15th-23rd June) from Kuantan AB.
 

The strategic importance of the Southern border with Malaysia was underlined with the selection in 2008 of Surat Thani AFB and its 701st Squadron to house the latest Thai fighter: the Saab JAS-39 Gripen.

The Squadron stood down in November 2007 to prepare the pilots and ground crew for the arrival of the Gripen, a farewell airshow was held on 21-11-07, though it was later decided to keep the Northrop fighter in a flight until the new fighter was operational.

The initial batch of the
Saab JAS-39 Gripen, 4 single- and 2 double-seaters, arrived on 22-02-11; contemporaneously the unit was divided in two flights each housing one type of aircraft.

The Squadron had by mid-2012, according to an unofficial source, 13 Northrop F-5E, 4 Northrop F-5F, 1 Northrop F-5B; twelve single-seater were initially transferred to 211th Squadron at Ubon Ratchathani, while the final 2 Northrop F-5E and 1 F-5B were handed over to the during an official ceremony on 11-10-12.
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  6th WING


The Tiger equipped Royal Flight was only nominally attached to the 6th Wing; it depended directly from the Royal House. One Boeing B.737 and one Bell 412 were also part of the flight.

Royal Flight - 904 Aggressor Squadron

  
                Badges                   Badges and Prince's initials on tail

The Royal Flight, stationed at Don Muang AFB, had 1995 a personal "mount" Northrop F-5E of the Crown Prince Vatsilalongkon Machidownwho, who flew the aircraft approximately four times a week, accompanied by three Tigers on detachment fom front-line Squadrons. The prince had attended conversion training on the Tiger at Williams AFB in 1983 and became instructor pilot on 04-05-1994.

Several different badges were painted on tails and under the cockpit. Hereunder some are shown.

                

        Northrop F-5E 90406/60770/VM Aggressor 06 in a Royal Squadron line-up
        at Don Muang AFB on 24-07-96.         
 Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

 

Former USAF Northrop F-5E 90403/41575/VM Aggressor 03 at Don Muang AFB on 13-01-96
                                                                    Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

           
            Northrop F-5E 90401/VM/61668 at Don Muang AFB on 14-01-96 with special
            tail badge, Thai CN inscription and simple aggressor number "01"
                                                                    Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast


Northrop F-5E 9408/80773, its origin from the 701 Squadron is shown by the tail
code SRT, seen at Don Muang AFB on 10-01-98

                                                                    Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

           
Northrop F-5E 9407/91704 with unusual 904 Squadron code position in addition to 211 Squadron 
code 21131 and tail badge at Don Muang AFB in January 1997.
                                                                              Photo: archives The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast

The flight was redesignated later as 904 Aggressor Squadron, still based at Don Muang AB, it remained the personal Crown Prince unit for some time, but has changed to an aggressor only role for the whole Air Force units since the Crown Prince doesn't fly with it anymore. An aircraft with code belonging to this Squadron has been noted at Bangkok-Don Muang in June 2012.

It is probable that the Prince had
in 1991 an General Dynamics F-16A block 15 as personal mount.

Any further detail about this unit is most welcome.

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