Forces drill for border skirmish
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Forces drill for border skirmish

Army and air force teams gather in Sukhothai for live-fire exercises

A joint air force-army drill got under way in Sukhothai province on Thursday. (Photo supplied/Wassana Nanuam)
A joint air force-army drill got under way in Sukhothai province on Thursday. (Photo supplied/Wassana Nanuam)

A joint air force-army drill was under way in Sukhothai province on Thursday to harmonise ground force and air support in a simulated war to deal with a border conflict.

Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang observed the drill that was conducted using live rounds. The exercise was carried out at the training ground of Third Army Area in the province.

It was incorporated into the seasonal training of the 1st Cavalry Division. No additional training budget was reportedly needed.

The drill, based on a strategy involving combined ground and air force operations, has been implemented in phases since November.

It was launched based on a military agreement to foster more exchanges in training exercises.

The ground forces included 30 Stingray light tanks, 16 M113 armoured personnel carriers, Scorpion light tanks, six 105-millimetre artillery pieces, six 120mm grenade launchers, as well as 600 soldierss.

(Photo supplied/Wassana Nanuam)

The air force, meanwhile, operated one DA-42 unmanned aerial vehicle, four F-16 jets from Nakhon Sawan Wing 4, three T-50 TH jets, two EC-725 helicopters and 20 personnel from a forward air control unit and a combat control unit.

The drill also used advanced technology for a better simulation. The Royal Thai Armed Forces headquarters supplied a portable air support system and provided digital mapping of the targets.

The exercise also performed a simulated battle in which a “Red” country ordered a purge of minorities and opposition groups near the border and pushed them into a “Blue” territory.

“I am satisfied with the training. No errors were detected, indicating high efficiency and a satisfactory performance [of those operating the drill],” Mr Sutin said.

There was no communication error between the ground and air forces during this exercise, he said. “While that was a weak point in the past, improvements have been made.”

Many countries have upgraded their military capabilities recently in the event of wars.

“The army is trying to explain to society the necessity of allocating funds for procuring military equipment. We’re hoping to gain public approval,” said Mr Sutin.

“This is not about purchasing additional equipment but replacing outdated ones out of necessity,” he said. “For the air force, military aircraft are progressively being decommissioned and so replacements are of the utmost priority.”

The fighter jet procurement project for fiscal 2025 would proceed as planned, he added.

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