It has recently been reported that the Royal Thai Air Force awarded a USD 143 million contract to US-based Textron Aviation for eight Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine light attack aircraft, related support equipment, spare parts, and training.
Thailand has thus become the first international customer of the light aircraft, which is able to conduct a broad array of missions for border security, anti-smuggling, counternarcotics and anti-human trafficking operations. According to the CEO of Textron Aviation Defense, the Royal Thai Air Force is a key US security ally and operator of one of the most advanced air forces in the Asia Pacific. Its procurement process sought the alignment of best cost, schedule, and performance to replace its existing fleet of aging Aero L-39 Albatros aircraft.
The deal is in line with the defense cooperation agreement that the Southeast Asian nation has with the US. Moreover, the contract is aligned with the Thai government’s S-Curve 11 strategy, a program that pioneers development of the Thai domestic defence industry, cultivates diversity and supports involvement across foreign and Thai companies.
It has been announced that Textron Aviation Defense training of Thai maintenance professionals will begin in Thailand in 2023, with pilot training to begin in the US in 2024. The AT-6 are to join the Royal Thai fleet in 2024.
(Sources: DefenseNews; Bangkok Post)