Thailand’s Armed Forces are Accelerating their UAS Induction Plans
The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) is accelerating its plans to acquire new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with advanced capabilities. The first step in this direction was the recent induction of Thailand’s first medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV). The Aeronautics DominatorXP is the RTAF’s first MALE UAV and the new assets will be based with the RTAF’s Squadron 302, Wing 3, Takhli District, Nakhon Sawan Province, located near 4 Wing and will support combat missions such as reconnaissance flights along the border. and non-combat missions such as searching for victims. or forest fire monitoring etc. The will also be used for Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.The RTAF has purchased three DominatorXP MALE UAVs from Aeronautics along with spare parts, equipment, logistics systems, and other related systems. and training courses. This procurement is in line with the RTAF’s Phase 2 UAV system acquisition project. At the previous edition of Defence & Security, held in August 2022, Thailand firm Aero Technology Industry Limited (ATIL), showcased three different drone systems conceived in partnership with Thailand’s Defence R&D agency, the Defence Technology Institute (DTI) and the Royal Thai Army (RTA). Deliveries to the RTA could potentially begin as early as 2026. ATIL showcased the DP20 MALE UAS, which a wingspan of 13.4m and a maximum take-off weight of 750 kg. It can carry a mission payload of 150kg along with 200kg of fuel. It can attain a maximum speed of 135 knots and a cruising speed of 100 knots. Endurance is claimed as 20 hours and its practical operating ceiling is quoted as 24,500 feet. The DP20-A is a larger armed drone with four hard points, which can accommodate dual-payload bomb racks and can carry a max payload 370 kg. The DP16 is a smaller UAV with a 10m wingspan. It has six hours of endurance with full load. In this configuration, it can travel 700-900 km. When configured in reconnaissance mode with a lighter payload, the drone can stay in the air for 10 hours. The DP16 has a maximum take-off weight of 360 kg and a max payload of 80 kg. It can attain a max speed of 180 km per hour and a cruising speed of 120 – 150 kmph. The drone can attain a max ceiling of 18,000 feet and cruise at 10,000 – 13,000 feet.
Royal Thai Navy’s (RTN) has already inducted its new maritime aerial reconnaissance craft unmanned system (MARCUS-B) vertical take-off or landing (VTOL) drone. The MARCUS-B, fixed wing VTOL drone, has a wingspan of 4.5m and a maximum take-off weight of 60kg. The MARCUS-B features pure electric or hybrid gas-electric propulsion and can attain a cruising speed of 50-55 knots. Endurance is claimed to be five hours. The VTOL naval drone, which is constructed out of fully dry-carbon, is nearing service entry and will be domestically manufactured by Thai firms. The MARCUS-B has also undergone testing aboard the RTN’s sole aircraft carrier, HTMS Chakri Naruebet.
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