Royal Thai Air Force Awards Contract for Fleet of Beechcraft AT-6 Aircraft, Becomes International Launch Customer for Latest USAF Light Attack Aircraft
WICHITA, KS (STL.News) Textron Aviation Defense LLC today announced a $143 million contract with the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) for an Integrated System in support of the 41st Wing light attack operations at Chiang Mai Air Base. The historic contract — for eight Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine aircraft, ground support equipment, spare parts, training, and other equipment — establishes Thailand as the international launch customer for the USAF’s latest light attack aircraft. The work in support of this procurement will take place at the company’s Wichita, Kansas facilities.
The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Defense LLC, a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company.
“We are honored the Royal Thai Air Force has competitively selected the Beechcraft AT-6 to conduct a broad array of missions in support of its border security and its anti-smuggling, counter-narcotics, and anti-human trafficking operations,” said Thomas Hammoor, president and chief executive officer of Textron Aviation Defense LLC. “The RTAF is a key U.S. security ally and operator of one of the most advanced air forces in Asia Pacific. Its extensive market research and stringent procurement process sought the alignment of best cost, schedule, and performance to replace its existing fleet of aging Aero L-39 Albatros aircraft and advance the capabilities of its fleet with the latest technology.”
The contract for the AT-6 — designated the Beechcraft AT-6TH in Thailand — supports the modernization and interoperability objectives at the forefront of the mutual defense cooperation between the U.S. and Thailand. The contract also contributes to the growth of Thailand’s aerospace industry detailed in the 10-year Royal Thai Air Force Purchase and Development (P&D) Plan, complies with requirements set forth by the Thai National Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) and empowers RTAF light attack aircrew with a vital technological advantage.
“RTAF pilots and concerned parties found the attributes of the AT-6 procurement program extremely favorable,” stated AM Pongsawat Jantasarn, RTAF’s chairman of the procurement committee. “It will also benefit both Thai and U.S. mutual interests, strengthening the enduring strategic partnership between our nations.”
The contract signing, witnessed by RTAF Air Chief Marshal Chanon Mungthanya, aligns the procurement with the Thai government’s S-Curve 11 strategy — a program that pioneers the development of the Thai domestic defense industry, cultivates diversity, and supports involvement across foreign and Thai companies.
The Beechcraft AT-6TH becomes the second RTAF procurement contracted in support of S-Curve 11. The first procurement under the new strategy was the Beechcraft T-6TH Texan II, awarded in 2020. The Ministry of Defense supports the S-Curve 11 strategy and the two procurements.
Textron Aviation Defense training of RTAF maintenance professionals is set to begin in Thailand in 2023, while pilot training is set to begin in Wichita in 2024. The Beechcraft AT-6TH will join the Royal Thai fleet in 2024.
About the Beechcraft AT-6TH & Beechcraft AT-6E Wolverine
Purpose-built for light attack, counter-insurgency, and Countering Violent Extremist Organizations (C-VEO) missions, the high-performance, low-risk Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine capitalizes on the proven heritage of the T-6 Texan II and delivers 4th generation capabilities at 2nd generation acquisition, operating, and sustainment costs. The U.S. Air Force is the first U.S. operator of the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine and Thailand is the first international operator.
About the Beechcraft T-6TH Texan II & Beechcraft T-6C Texan II
Purpose-built for a wide range of capabilities, the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II prepares military pilots for real-world missions. Tens of thousands of aviators worldwide have begun their aviation careers in the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II. Textron Aviation Defense designed each training capability – from initial pilot screens to advanced operational training – to support military requirements, equipping pilots with the expertise and confidence to graduate and achieve success in their next phase of training. In operation across two NATO military flight schools and 12 nations, the global fleet of nearly 1,000 T-6s has surpassed 4.6 million flight hours and achieves daily readiness rates of up to 91% among the international T-6 fleet. Thailand is the first Asian nation and the eleventh international fleet operator of the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II.
About Textron Aviation Defense LLC
When military customers need airborne solutions for their critical missions, they turn to Textron Aviation Defense. With a legacy of thousands of proven Integrated Training Systems (ITS) and Integrated Weapon Systems (IWS) produced and missionized in America’s Heartland since WWII, the family of Textron aircraft equips militaries worldwide with the lowest acquisition, sustainment and training costs on the market. Provider of the world’s leading military flight trainer, the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II fleet of nearly 1,000 aircraft has logged more than 4.5 million hours across two NATO military flight schools and a dozen countries worldwide since 2001.