Air force plans to put armed marshals on planes
Amid concerns about terrorist attacks which have recently wreaked havoc in many parts of the world, the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has rolled out a training session to produce air marshals to be deployed with weapons on commercial airplanes.
The RTAF's Security Forces Command was ordered by air force chief Johm Rungswang to organise the training, the air force source said, noting this order came in line with the air navigation act, which has already been put into force.
The air marshals will be dispatched to commercial airlines where they would travel with other passengers in plain clothes, the source said.
These officers can be armed on board.
The command selected its 40 officers to attend the air marshal one-month training programme, which started on Aug 1.
These officers have undergone several other air force training courses, such as commando, parachute jumping and special operations.
The initial training covers the theoretical study and the RTAF will map out the practical training sessions for air marshals very soon, the source said.
The trainees are expected to practise their shooting and undergo simulation training.
The air marshal training must comply with regulations and principles underlined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the UN's aviation agency, the source said.
The deployment of air marshals is part of security measures countering terrorism and hostage situations on aircraft, the source noted.
Deployment will be made on flights reported to be at risk of untoward incidents or those en route to countries where the risk runs high.
According to the source, air marshals were previously sent to commercial flights before but they could not be armed. Between two and four officers were deployed each time.
None has been used on an aircraft recently as no intelligence indicated a potential risk of attacks.
There is a need now that the RTAF has to dispatch air marshals to board commercial planes in correspondence with the air navigation act, the source said.
ACM Johm said following the one-month training the air marshals would be assigned to board aircraft.
The training session will end on Aug 29 when the personnel will receive the training programme's insignia from the air force chief himself.