Service of F-16 Fighting Falcon with Thailand

Last revised September 22, 2015

In April of 1985, the government of Thailand made overtures to the United States to purchase twelve F-16As. At that time, the F-16/79 was considered to be the only version that Thailand would be allowed to receive. However, in July 1987, Thailand was given approval to go ahead and order the F100-powered F-16A/B-15OCU fighters for the Kongtap Agard Thai (Royal Thai Air Force), and a letter of agreement was signed in December of 1987 for the purchase of 14 F-16As and four F-16Bs. However, because of funding restrictions, the initial order through the Peace Naresuan FMS program was limited to only 8 F100-PW-220-powered Block 15 F-16As and four F-16Bs. Options for the remaining six F-16A were taken up in mid-1987.

Thailand took delivery of its first F-16A in a ceremony at Fort Worth in May of 1988. The first batch of F-16s were assigned to 103 Squadron at Korat air base. The Thai F-16s have the Westinghouse APG-66S fire-control radar, but they do have several non-standard features, such as the ability to carry the Rafael Python 3 AAM. In addition, they can carry the Thomson-TRT Defense ATLIS-III automatic TV-tracking laser designator/range- finding pod. Six Rubis low-altitude night/bad-weather navigation pods were ordered from Thomson-TRT in November of 1993.

Sixteen more Block 15 OCU F-16A/Bs (12As, 4 Bs) were ordered in July of 1992 under Peace Naresuan II. The first example was handed over in a ceremony at Fort Worth on September 10, 1995. These 16 planes (12 As and 4 Bs) re-equipped No. 403 Squadron based at Takhli, which previously operated the F-5E/F.

The government of Thailand was interested in seeking funding for a third front-line fighter squadron. Both the F-16C/D Block 50/52 and the F/A-18 were under consideration, as well as the Russian Sukhoi Su-27/35. Thailand ordered eight F/A-18C/D fighters, but the order was cancelled before delivery because of the economic problems that afflicted almost all of Asia during the late 1990s. As a substitute, early in 1999 Thailand began disussing procurement of 12-24 refurbished surplus USAAF F-16A/B fighters. In November of 1999, the USA authorized the supply of up to 18 of these machines. On July 11, 2000, approval was granted by the Thai government for the purchase of 16 surplus USAF Block 15 ADF fighters. Delivery began early in 2002. In early 2005, the Royal Thai Air Force received 3 F-16A-15OCU and 4 F-16B-15OCU aircraft from the Republic of Singapore AF.

In 2011, 18 F-16A/B-15 OCUs frm 403 Squadron were upgraded to F-16 MLU.

Two serials are generally carried by the Thai F-16s, the original FMS serial on the tail and a Thai air force serial which is in Thai script. For example, in the Thai serial BK.19-13/37, BK.19 is the Thai aircraft designation for F-16. The next two digits represent the order of delivery, i.e. the 13th example followed by the last two digits of the Buddist year of delivery 2537. This serial number is carred on aircraft 91062 (really 91-0062), which also carries a squadron code. This particular F-16 is assigned to 103 Squadron at Korat air base, so it wears the number 10313, which indicates that it is the 13th example assigned to 103 Squadron.

Serials of Thai F-16s:

86-0378			General Dynamics F-16A Block 15AA OCU Fighting Falcon
				to Thailand as 10305
86-0379/0381		General Dynamics F-16B Block 15AA OCU Fighting Falcon
				to Thailand as 10301/10303
87-0702/0708 		General Dynamics F-16A Block 15AB OCU Fighting Falcon
				to Thailand as 10306/10312
87-0709			General Dynamics F-16B Block 15AB OCU Fighting Falcon
				to Thailand as 10304	
91-0062/0067		General Dynamics F-16A Block 15AJ OCU Fighting Falcon
				to Thailand as 10313/10318 


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