Royal Cambodian Air Force
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Air Force

Current Title: Toap Akas Khemarak Phoumin
Title in English: Royal Cambodian Air Force
Abbreviation: RCAF


Narrative History:
The present-day Royal Cambodian Air Force is decended from the Aviation Royale Khmer (AVRK), which was established by the French and later became the Khmer Air Force (KhAF). The communist Khmer Rouge take-over in 1975 resulted in the adoption of the title Air Force of the Kampuchean Liberation Army (AFKLA). The air force was disbanded following the invasion by Vietnam in 1979 - but in 1985 a new air arm called the Kampuchean People's Air Force (KPAF) was created to help in anti-guerrilla operations. The KPAF was disbanded in 1992, prior to UN organised elections. The Royal Cambodian Air Force (RCAF) was established in 1993.

Aviation Royale Khmere - Narrative History

Khmer Air Force - Narrative History

Air Force of the Kampuchean Liberation Army - Narrative History

Kampuchean People's Air Force - Narrative History

Royal Cambodian Air Force - Narrative History

Key Dates:
1 April 1954    Aviation Royale Khmere first established
October 1970    Aviation Royale Khmere renamed Khmer Air Force (KAF)
April 1975    Khmer Rouge victory results in name change to Air Force of the Kampuchean Liberation Army
Jan 1979    Air Force of the Kampuchean Liberation Army disbanded after Vietnamese invasion
1985    Kampuchean People's Air Force established
1989    Air Force renamed Cambodian People's Air Force
Feb 1992    Cambodian People's Air Force disbanded and aircraft handed to the United Nations
Sept? 1993    Royal Cambodian Air Force established

Current Status:
Cambodia's status as one of the poorest countries in the world has meant that the RCAF has received very little development. As the country has been largely peaceful since the mid 1990s, the focus of operations is on humanitarian aid flights and support to the various arms of the government. Consequently, most of the air force's budget is spent on maintaining the transport and helicopter fleet.

A contract with Israel Aircraft Industries to upgrade 9 MiG-21bis and 2 MiG-21UM to MiG-21-2000 standard was been suspended after Cambodia encountered financial difficulties, and is unlikely to be completed. The remaining MiGs are unserviceable and haven't flown for some time. The L-39Cs are also believed to be non-operational.

It is reported that all remaining fixed-wing transport aircraft have been transferred to the Council of Ministers and are no longer operated by the air force. Three Mi-8/17s are operated under direct control of Prime Minister Hun Sen's body guard unit.

Future Plans:
No future procurement plans are known.


National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):
AVRK and KhAF aircraft carried a variety of serial numbering systems, which were derived from the system applying in country of origin of the aircraft. The Fletcher Defenders carried a unique letter-number sequence which was not adopted on any other type.

Hardly any AFLKA serials are known - except for the Shenyang F-6s, which carried at least two different styles of serial presentation.

KPAF aircraft retained their former VNAF 4-figure serial numbers, or carried civilian XU-xxx registrations.

Curent front-line RCAF aircraft carry a simple numerical individual number, eg: '25' for a L-39C or '7102' for a MiG-21UM. However, the majority of the air forces's strength is made up of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters used in the transport role. These carry civil registrations in the XU-xxx sequence. The state airline, Air Cambodia, also operates as a transport arm of the air force.

Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
Not used.


Aircraft Designation System(s):
None used.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
Royal Cambodian Air Force [1993-Present]

Aviation Royale Khmere [1954-1970]
Khmer Air Force [1970-1975]
Air Force of the Kampuchean Liberation Army [1975-1979]
Kampuchean People's Air Force [1985-1992]

Aircraft NOT Used:
False reports of aircraft on order or in service

Aircraft Losses and Incidents:
No information.


Main Headquarters:
Phnom Penh.

Current Organisational Structure:
The RCAF currently comprises only 2 regular squadrons, plus a transport unit which is operated by the state-owned airline Air Cambodia. The Cambodian Council of Ministers operates a separate VIP transport fleet.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle:
Table of Orders of Battle

All-Time Flying Units List:
Ecole Royale de l'Air Khmere
Groupe de Liaison
1er Groupe d'Intervention
1er Groupe d'Observation
1er Groupe d'Helicopter
1er Groupe de Transport
Unit 701/Fighter Squadron
VIP Squadron
Helicopter Squadron
Transport Squadron
Reconnaissance Squadron

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
RCAF are based at only one main base, Pochentong International Airport (near the capital), but operates into a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country. See listing below for details.

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
Apart from small number of main military air bases, there are also a several smaller airports and airfields around the country which are frequently used by the Air Force and the semi-military airline Air Cambodia.
Airports and Airfields Listing

More Information


See aircraft details pages.


World Air Power Journal Vol.43 Winter 2000

JETS (Lela Presse) No. 55 July 2000

Websites: Cambodia

Khmer Air Force

The Great Adventures of Bob & Don

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First Created: 24 November 2004 - Last Revised: 19 December 2004
Copyright 2004 Jan Forsgren.    e-mail: