New helicopters are being introduced to the Royal Thai Police (RTP) Aviation Division based at Ram Inthra Police Airport in the Tha Raeng district of eastern Bangkok.
The airfield offers a short concrete runway, hardstandings and three large hangars; two of the latter were recently renewed under the same modernisation programme. The RTP Aviation Division comprises two aviation wings – fixed- and rotary-wing. The latter includes a variety of helicopters, with older airframes dumped beside the landing pads and harvested for spare parts – its Bell 205s and UH-1Hs having now been withdrawn from use. Two veteran Bells, a 206L and a 206B-2, remain airworthy alongside a single 212, the rest of the RTP fleet comprising more modern types. Among them, four new Bell 429s and two Bell 412Es were operational at the time of AFM’s visit in August, as well as two AS365N3+ Dauphins, five EC155B- 1s and several Bell 412EPs (which lack the 412EPI’s glass cockpit).
Speaking at Ram Inthra in August, the RTP Aviation Division’s commander-in-chief said: “Our old Bell 206B-2 and UH-1H helicopters had been in service for many years and did an excellent job, but needed to be replaced with state-of-the-art hardware, which we have in the Bell 429 and Bell 412EPI.” Although the fleet’s primary mission is VIP transport, its AS365N3+ aircraft are equipped for search and rescue (SAR) with an electric hoist, rappelling gear, a cargo sling and searchlights. During the first week of August two new Bell 412EPIs – serial 2610 (c/n 37007) and serial 2611 (c/n 37008) – were delivered along with the RTP’s final 429 model (serial 3204).
The two 412EPIs flew multiple circuits at Ram Inthra during the second week of the month, with US pilots flying them under the type’s certification programme for RTP service. More new equipment had arrived by October 3, when Airbus Helicopters announced the RTP had become the first H175 operator in the Asia Pacific region: the force received two, which will be used for VVIP transport as well as police missions. In a statement, Airbus noted that the RTP also operates five H155 (EC155B-1) and
two AS365N3+ helicopters – although only three EC155B-1s were noted at Ram Inthra in August, one of which was stored.