RTAF tries to salvage reputation with clip

RTAF tries to salvage reputation with clip

'Hot Alert' video explains jet foray

The air force has released a video clip to try to rebut criticism about the country's airspace defence capabilities following the incursion by a Myanmar fighter jet at the end of last month.

The so-called "Hot Alert" clip has been put on social media to "explain" queries surrounding the incursion.

The government has come under fire from critics and the opposition for the allegedly slow response to a Myanmar MiG-29 fighter jet that violated Thai air space for about a minute over Tak's Phop Phra district on June 30.

In the clip, about 40 minutes long, Group Captain Porakorn Jeenawat, a former commander of interceptor aircraft squadrons, said the understanding of the June 30 incursion varied depending on where people sourced their information.

As a former fighter jet pilot, he said he understood how some may struggle to fully grasp the issue if they were not trained, did not specialise in the field or did not have sufficient information.

Gp Capt Porakorn explained the incursion took place over an area adjacent to a strip of Myanmar territory straddled by Thai land.

The strip is inhabited by ethnic minority communities. It is sometimes hard for a pilot to keep strictly to the jagged border which is not clearly marked by a river or mountain range.

The area is vulnerable to accidental incursions, he said.

He insisted the air force did not sit on its hands over the June 30 incident, which was visible on radar. It contacted the army, which reported Myanmar troops were fighting across the border and were using fighter jets in military operations.

Both have remained on the constant lookout for any spillover of the conflict.

The army was also acting as a "linesman" by sending soldiers along the border and watching for jets, he said.

On the radar screen, the jet was supposed to turn right as it approached the Thai border.

Instead, the pilot made a left turn, resulting in the incursion, according to Gp Capt Porakorn.

Later that day, a Myanmar military helicopter approached the Thai border, prompting air force F16 interceptor aircraft to scramble.

"It's meant to show [Myanmar] they must not let incursions happen. We won't tolerate it regardless of whether the act was intentional or an error," he said.

The air force deploys aircraft on Combat Air Patrol duty. They are called Quick Reaction Alert aircraft which are in operation around the country.

Standard criteria for scrambling such aircraft include whether the intruder poses a hostile intent.

Typically, a hostile mission is made up of more than one aircraft.

On June 30, there was only one MiG-29 fighter jet that strayed into and violated Thai airspace.

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