July 17, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Last Friday, Thailand's Korat Air Base received the final three of 16 refurbished Lockheed Martin F-16s. The delivery completes the third F-16 squadron for the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF).
The U.S. Air Force refurbished and delivered the aircraft. Lockheed Martin provided the upgrade kits for refurbishment and will provide logistics support and maintenance training. Six F-16s were delivered in Augustfour more in October and the remainder on July 11th.
Air Chief Marshal Kongsak Vantana, commander-in-chief of the RTAF
, accepted the aircraft and expressed his appreciation to the U.S. Air Force and F-16 industrial team, led by Lockheed Martin, for the professional completion of the Peace Naresuan IV program.
has received 36 new F-16A/Bs in three previous buys delivered between 1988 and 1996. Thailand's F-16s, which have been operating for 15 years, have more than 60,000 flight hours.
The aircraft in the current order came from USAF storage at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center in Tucson, Ariz. The planes were transferred to Ogden Air Logistics Center for incorporation of the Falcon Up structural upgrade and other modifications. The engines were upgraded to the F100-PW-220E configuration by the Pratt & Whitney San Antonio Engine Center and will match the other RTAF F-16 engines.
This group of aircraft consists of 15 F-16A single-seat models and one F-16B two-seat model. The last six aircraft supported training in the United States before being sent to Asia.
Thailand is one of six countries that have acquired more than 150 F-16A/Bs from USAF storage. This month, the Italian Air Force received the same version selected by Thailand.