The USAF is expanding its ISR training capabilities through an initiative that sees 526th Intelligence Squadron providing training scenarios for US units across the globe.
Thailand signs on the dotted line for Texan IIs
The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has officially ordered 12 Beechcraft T-6C Texan II trainer aircraft and associated services from Textron Aviation Defense, in a direct commercial sale worth $162 million.
The deal also includes training, spares and support services, Textron announced on 28 September.
All 12 Texan IIs will be based at the RTAF Flying Training School at Kamphaeng Saen Air Base, to replace a legacy fleet of Pilatus PC-9M aircraft.
Thomas Webster, regional Asia-Pacific sales director at Textron Aviation Defense, said the acquisition of the Beechcraft T-6C Texan II Integrated Training System ‘empowers the cadre of [RTAF] student pilots with a technological advantage throughout their flight training and prepares them for a successful transition to advanced fighter and attack aircraft’.
The procurement cost of the new trainer aircraft is broadly in line with $167.4 million set out earlier this year in the RTAF ‘White Paper 2020’. In this document, the RTAF noted that the current Pilatus PC-9M trainer fleet of 12 aircraft will be withdrawn in 2023 and that the RTAF would be looking for 12 trainers along with integrated training systems before then.
Shephard recently reported that local industry will have unprecedented opportunities to be involved in this programme, with the potential for some components to be made in Thailand too.
‘This programme is a leap towards the new perspective of the Thai government to support the local defence industry, not only to procure a new trainer,’ said Air Chf Mshl Maanat Wongwat, RTAF Commander-in-Chief. ‘This programme seeks the involvement between diverse partners, primarily between foreign and Thai local companies, which has been driven by the government’s current strategy.’
Shephard Defence Insight also describes interest in T-6C Texan II from Argentina and Tunisia.
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