Royal Cambodian Air Force
Royal Cambodian Air Force Wings.svg
Badge of the Royal Cambodian Air Force
Founded9 November 1953; 69 years ago (1953-11-09)
Country Cambodia
AllegianceHM The King
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Part ofRoyal Cambodian Armed Forces
HeadquartersPhnom Penh, Cambodia
Motto(s)"ការពារព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា" (Khmer)
("Defend the Kingdom of Cambodia")
Mascot(s)Aafra Zarnaz Auhona
Soeung Samnang
Roundel of Cambodia – Type 2.svg
Fin flash
Flag of Cambodia.svg

The Royal Cambodian Air Force (Khmer: កងទ័ពជើងអាកាស, romanizedKângtoăp Cheung Akas, pronounced [kɑːŋtɔəp cəːŋ ʔaːkaːh]) is the branch of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces which is charged with operating all military aircraft in Cambodia.


The Royal Cambodian Air Force is commanded by Lieutenant General Soeung Samnang, who has four deputy commanders beneath him. The Air Force itself is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of National Defence.

Air Force headquarters are located at Phnom Penh International Airport and is still sign posted Pochentong Air Base. The only operational aircraft at Pochentong Air Base are from the VIP squadron. Maintenance of aircraft and helicopters is also at Pochentong. The airworthy Z-9 and Mi-17 helicopters from the helicopter squadron are based at Phnom Penh International Airport and Siem Reap International Airport.


In September 1993, a new air arm, the Royal Cambodian Air Force, RCAF, was formed. Among its staff were included many officers which had served with the KAF and KPRAF. About half a dozen MiG-21s were returned to operational status, with about 10 Mi-8s and Mi-17s used for Gunship and Troop Transport duties forming the backbone of the RCAF.[1]

During January and March 1994, government forces attacked two Khmer Rouge strongholds, Anlong Veng and Pailin, in eastern Cambodia. Some armed reconnaissance sorties were flown by the 701st Fighter Regiment. On one sortie, one MiG-21 received slight damage by small arms fire, its pilot making a forced landing at Battambang. However, due to the limited capability of the RCAF, its air assets were rarely used to full effect.[1]

During 1995, a plethora of various transport and training aircraft were acquired from a number of countries, including China, France, Great Britain, Israel, Italy and the Ukraine. Among the aircraft acquired were 3 BN-2 Islander Light Transports, which were pressed into use as Light Attack Aircraft. 6 Tecnam P92 Trainers were delivered from Italy, while the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) supplied 6 L-39C Jet Trainers. IAI also offered to train and re-organize the RCAF. In the event, four MiG-21s were dispatched to Israel for refurbishment by IAI. The helicopter fleet of Mi-8s and Mi-17s were augmented by the delivery of 2 Mi-26T Heavy-Lift Helicopters from Ukraine. Incidentally, most of the helicopter pilots and maintenance staff were from Eastern Europe, being hired under contract to fly and maintain the Mi-8s and Mi-17s and Mi-26Ts.[1]

Operations against the Khmer Rouge continued, with an offensive being launched during the 1996 dry season. With most of the MiG-21s grounded, the operational elements of the RCAF included 5 Mi-17 Gunships, 8 Mi-8s and Mi-17s Troop Transport, and 3 BN-2 Islanders, one of the latter being lost during the offensive.[1]

By 1998, the last remnants of the Khmer Rouge had finally been defeated. The situation for the RCAF remained dire, though. 2 of the MiG-21s refurbished by IAI were returned to Cambodia in 1999, with the remaining 2 being embargoed due to the lack of payment. Lack of funds also prevented the refurbishments of a further 5 MiG-21s, as had been originally intended. By 2000, no less than 15 MiG-21s were in outside storage at Pochentong, slowly but steadily rotting away. Most of them appeared not to have been flown, or even moved for that matter, since at least 1992. The 2 Mi-26Ts were stored at Pochentong as well.[1]

Since the end of the hostilities, RCAF operations have centred around training, liaison and VIP Transport. Sorties in support of humanitarian needs have been conducted as well. 5 of the L-39Cs are still in service, although at least 2 have been grounded at anytime due to lack of spares. As Cambodia remains one of the world's poorest and least developed countries, the future of the RCAF remains uncertain. For the foreseeable future, the remaining L-39Cs and 2 refurbished MiG-21s will constitute the sole combat aircraft. With no serious external threat, emphasis will be placed upon developing available training, liaison and Transport assets.[1]

Current inventory

A former Mil Mi-26 Halo of the Royal Cambodian Air Force.[2]
A former Mil Mi-26 Halo of the Royal Cambodian Air Force.[2]
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Airbus A320 France VIP transport 1[3]
Xian MA60 China transport 2[4]
Harbin Y-12 China transport / utility 1[4]
Britten-Norman BN-2 United Kingdom transport 1[4]
Mil Mi-8 Soviet Union transport 9[4]
Harbin Z-9 China utility 9[4]
Eurocopter AS350 France utility 1[4]
AgustaWestland AW109 Italy utility 2[5]
Aero L-39 Czechoslovakia trainer / light attack L-39C / NG 5[6]


Main article: Royal Cambodian Air Force FC

The force maintains a professional association football team as one of its branches, which formerly played in the C-League.

Air Force ranks and insignia

Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Royal Cambodian Air Force
Lieutenant General
Major General
Lieutenant Colonel
Sub Lieutenant
Cambodian Air Force OR-09b.svg
Néay ǔttâmséniy
Ŭttâmséniy êk
Ŭttâmséniy toŭ
Ŭttâmséniy trei
Vôrôséniy êk
Vôrôséniy toŭ
Vôrôséniy trei
Ânŭséniy êk
Ânŭséniy toŭ
Ânŭséniy trei
Néay châmnáng
Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
 Royal Cambodian Air Force
Cambodian Air Force OR-09a.svg
Cambodian Air Force OR-08.svg
Cambodian Air Force OR-07.svg
Cambodian Air Force OR-06.svg
Cambodian Air Force OR-05.svg
Cambodian Air Force OR-04.svg
Cambodian Air Force OR-03.svg
Cambodian Air Force OR-02.svg
Cambodian Air Force OR-01.svg
Warrant Officer Command Sergeant Major Master Sergeant Staff Sergeant Chief Corporal Corporal Airman 1st Class Airman 2nd Class Airman

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Royal Cambodian Air Force - Narrative History". Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  2. ^ "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 12". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Air Force One of Cambodia". Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "World Air Forces 2023". Flightglobal Insight. 2023. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  5. ^ "Trade Registers". Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  6. ^ Vogel, Ben (16 October 2019). "Cambodia could buy more L-39s". Jane's Defence Industry. Retrieved 5 January 2020.