Renovated Peacemaker aircraft back in service 50 years after being first commissioned
The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has recommissioned eight renovated AU-23A Peacemaker gunships — the world’s last military fleet still in operation.
RTAF commander-in-chief ACM Alongkorn Wannarot on Thursday presided over the 50th anniversary of the American-made aircraft’s first commission in Thailand, at Wing 5 Air Force Base in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
Thirty-three Peacemaker counter-insurgency, utility transport aircraft were first commissioned in Thailand in November 1972 as part of US military assistance during the Vietnam War.
At present, only 12 are still in use. Eight of them have been renovated and the remaining four are under renovation, which is scheduled for completion in September next year.
The Air Force chief said that the commission of Peacemaker aircraft can be extended as their condition is mostly unaffected by long use, unlike fighter jets, such as F-5s or F-16s which have to be decommissioned after a specific period of use.
The renovation of AU-23A Peacemaker aircraft involved replacing its analogue systems with digital ones, in addition to general refurbishments of the body and internal systems.
The aircraft have been used mainly for reconnaissance, rain-making and announcement.
The RTAF plans to use the renovated Peacemaker aircraft for at least 15 years, with the assessment of their capabilities conducted every five years, according to the chief.
“We improve our existing resources to extend their useful life so that we do not have to always buy new ones,” he said.