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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Thailand Plans Acquisition of VIP Aircraft and Helicopters

The 2025 budget bill outlines plans to procure a VIP aircraft costing 12 billion baht and two mid-sized helicopters at 3.3 billion baht, aimed at enhancing Thailand’s capabilities for training and supporting various activities. All assets will fall under the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF)’s oversight.

Air Force Commander-in-Chief ACM Punpakdee Pattanakul emphasized that the new VIP aircraft will replace the aging Airbus 304, scheduled for decommissioning by 2029. This acquisition is crucial for Thailand, providing a long-haul capability essential for transporting important passengers and offering aid during crises such as conflicts or disasters.

Moreover, the VIP plane will serve the Prime Minister and Cabinet, reducing reliance on chartered flights. Recently, the Airbus 340-500 was utilized to evacuate Thai citizens from Israel and Sudan back to Thailand, showcasing its utility in emergency situations.

Additionally, the two VIP helicopters included in the budget could support search and rescue missions and other critical services as needed. ACM Punpakdee noted that specific models for the aircraft and helicopters will be determined pending approval of the budget.

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