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Flight milestone for upgraded Thai Alpha Jet
The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has carried out the first flight of an upgraded Alpha Jet A. According to local news sources, the flight took place on 31 August.
The RTAF took delivery of 25 ex-German Air Force Alpha Jets between September 2000 and August 2001; five of these airframes were used for spares. Shephard understands that 17 of the 20 airworthy aircraft remain in service.
Reports in the Bangkok Post in 2019 said that Thailand was to upgrade 14 Alpha Jets as part of a THB3.3 billion ($110 million) programme. Perhaps surprisingly, this Alpha Jet Capability Improvement Programme was not confirmed in the Thai Defence White Paper that was published in February 2020.
The Alpha Jets are operated by 231 Squadron from Udon Thani Air Base.
The upgrade is believed to consist of a new HUD, HOTAS and glass cockpit, and is largely being undertaken by RTAF engineering personnel.
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