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Khmer Air Force

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Khmer Air Force

Khmer Air Force
Armée de l'air khmère
Khmer National Air Force Service Banner (1970–75)
Active 8 June 1971 – 17 April 1975
Country  Cambodia
Allegiance Khmer Republic
Branch Air Force
Size 10,000 personnel (at height)
309 aircraft (at height)
Garrison/HQ Pochentong Air Base, Phnom Penh
Nickname KAF, KhAF (AAK in French)
Anniversaries 8 June - KAF Day
Engagements Cambodian Civil War
Vietnam War
So Satto
Penn Randa
Ea Chhong
Fin Flash
Aircraft flown
Attack Fouga Magister, T-28, A-1, T-37, AU-24, AC-47
Fighter J-5, MiG-17
Reconnaissance MS 500 Criquet, O-1 Bird Dog, U-6 (L-20), U-17
Trainer T-6, T-28, T-41, Socata Horizon, MiG-15UTI, Fouga Magister, T-37
Transport Dassault MD 315 Flamant, Aero Commander, Utva 56, An-2, Il-14, C-47, Douglas C-54, C-123K, Alouette II, Alouette III, H-19, H-34, UH-1, Mi-4

The Khmer Air Force (French: Armée de l'air khmère; AAK), commonly known by its Americanized acronym KAF (or KhAF) was the air force branch of the Khmer National Armed Forces (FANK), the official military of the Khmer Republic during the Cambodian Civil War between 1970 and 1975.


Although an air wing for the fledging Khmer Royal Army (ARK) was first planned in 1952, it wasn't until April 22, 1954 however that the Royal Khmer Air Force – or, more literally, 'Royal Khmer Aviation' – (French: Aviation royale khmère; AVRK) was officially commissioned by Royal decree. Commanded by Prince Sihanouk's personal physician, Colonel Dr. Ngo Hou and known sarcastically as the ‘Royal Flying Club’,[1] the AVRK initially operated a small fleet of four Morane-Saulnier MS 500 Criquet liaison aircraft, two Cessna 180 Skywagon light utility aircraft, one Cessna 170 light personal aircraft, and one DC-3 modified for VIP transport. At this stage, the AVRK was not yet an independent service; since its earlier personnel cadre was drawn from the Engineer Corps, the Ministry of Defense placed the AVRK under the administrative control of the Army Engineer's Inspector-General Department. The first flight training courses in-country were initiated on October 1954 by French instructors at the newly founded Royal Flying School at Pochentong airfield near Phnom Penh, though Khmer pilot students were later sent to France.

Early expansion phase 1955–63

During the early years of its existence, the AVRK received assistance from France – which under the terms of the 1953 treaty of independence had the right to keep a military mission in Cambodia –, the United States, and Israel, who provided training programs, technical aid, and additional aircraft. Deliveries by the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (US MAAG) of fourteen T-6G Texan trainers, eight Cessna L-19A Bird Dog observation aircraft, three de Havilland Canada DHC L-20 Beaver liaison aircraft,[2] and seven C-47 transports (soon joined by with two additional C-47s bought from Israel) allowed the AVRK to acquire a limited light strike capability, as well as improving its own reconnaissance and transportation capabilities. A small Helicopter force also began to take shape, with the delivery in 1960 of two Sud Aviation SA 3130 Alouette IIs by the French and of two Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaws by the US MAAG in 1963. Although Cambodia was theoretically forbidden of having fighter jets under the terms of the July 1955 Geneva Accords, the AVRK did received its first jet trainers in September 1961 from France, in the form of four Potez CM.170R Fouga Magisters modified locally in 1962 to accept a pair of 7,62 mm machine guns and under-wing rocket rails. By the end of the year, the AVRK aligned 83 airframes of American, Canadian and French origin, though mostly were World War II-vintage obsolescent types well past their prime – US MAAG advisors often described the AVRK at the time as an "aerial museum" – and training accidents were far from uncommon.

The baptism of fire of the AVRK came the following year when its T-6G Texan armed trainers supported Khmer Royal Army troops in Takéo Province fighting a cross-border incursion by Vietnamese militiamen from the Hòa Hảo militant sect fleeing persecution from the neighbouring Republic of Vietnam.[3] The obsolete Texans were eventually replaced in August that year by 16 US North American T-28D Trojan trainers converted to the fighter-bomber role.[4] Also under the US MAAG program, the AVRK received in March 1963 four Cessna T-37B Tweet jet trainers; however, unlike the Fougas provided earlier by the French, these airframes had no provision for weapon systems.

Structure and organization

The main tactical air elements of the AVRK by mid-1956 were a training squadron, a transport and liaison squadron and the 1st intervention (or combat) squadron, all based at Pochentong airfield. As the AVRK expanded its flight and technical branch services, in 1958 the Air Force Command re-organized them more systematically into air wings or ‘Groups’ (French: Groupements) based on the French Air Force model – the Territorial Group (French: Groupement Territoriale) which handled administrative tasks, the Technical Group (French: Groupement Téchnique) for the maintenance of aircraft and other equipments and the Tactical Air Group (French: Groupement Aérien Tactique – GATAC). This later formation aligned three squadron-sized flight units:

  • A reconnaissance squadron, the 1st Observation and Combat Accompanying Group (French: 1ér Groupe d'Observation et d'Accompagnement au Combat – 1ér GAOAC);
  • A combat and ground support squadron, the Intervention Group (French: Groupe d'Intervention – GI);
  • A transportation squadron, the Liaison and Transport Group (French: Groupe d'Liaison et Transport – GLT).

The neutrality years 1964-1970

The US MAAG aid program was suspended in August 1964 when Cambodia adopted a neutrality policy, so the AVRK continued to rely on French military assistance but at the same time turned to Australia, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and China for aircraft and training. Already in 1961, Khmer student pilots returning from previous training in France had been sent to the USSR for conversion training in Soviet fighter jet types, and in November 1963 the Soviets delivered an initial batch of three MiG-17F fighter jets, one MiG-15UTI jet trainer and one Yakovlev Yak-18 Max light trainer. France continued to deliver aircraft to Cambodia in 1964-65, supplying 16 night attack Douglas AD-4N Skyraiders and six Dassault MD 315R Flamant light transports, soon followed by more Alouette II and Alouette III light helicopters and ten Gardan GY-80 Horizon light trainers. The Yugoslavians provided at the time two UTVA 60AT1 utility transports, whilst the USSR delivered one Ilyushin Il-14 and eight Antonov An-2 Colt transports, and China sent one Chinese-built MiG-15UTI jet trainer and ten Shenyang J-5 fighter jets. Not be outdone, the Soviets delivered in April 1967 a second batch of five MiG-17s[1] and two Mil Mi-4 Hound light helicopters.[5]

Like the other branches of the then FARK, the Royal Cambodian Air Force's own military capabilities by the late 1960s remained low, being barely able to accomplish its primary mission which was to defend the national airspace. Due to its low strength and limited flying assets, the AVRK was relegated to a combat support role by providing transportation services to ARK infantry units and occasional close air support to ground operations. Aside from Pochentong Air Base, the other available airfields in the country consisted of rough runways that lacked permanent rear-echelon support facilities, which were only used temporarily as emergency landing strips but never as secondary airbases.

Consequently, and in accordance with Cambodia's neutralist foreign policy, few combat missions were flown. AVRK activities were restricted to air patrols in order to protect Cambodia's airspace from the numerous incursions made by US Air Force (USAF), South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) and Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) aircraft. In 1962, during a period of heightened tension with Thailand over the disputed Preah Vihear Temple in the Dangrek Mountains border area, the C-47 transports of the Liaison and Transport Group (GLT) dropped at night three planeloads of paratroopers over the Choam Ksan district in a show of force intended to intimidate the Thai government. The Air Force C-47 transports resumed the same role again in 1964, when they carried out another battalion-sized parachute drop over two days near Samrong in Oddar Meanchey Province along the Thai border,[6][7] and landing strips were improvised at Siem Reap and Battambang for the C-47s and An-2s supplying the ARK troops. Detachments of MiG-17s and A-1D Skyraiders were also deployed at these locations after the intrusion of RTAF airplanes into the Cambodian airspace, but both sides prudently avoided confrontation and there were no incidents. A more serious clash occurred on March 21, 1964 when a patrol of two AVRK T-28D fighter-bombers penetrated 3,22 Kilometers (over 2 miles) into South Vietnam and shot down an L-19 light aircraft in retaliation for a VNAF strike into Cambodia, killing both the Vietnamese pilot and the US observer.[1][8][9]

It was not until the late 1960s however, that the AVRK received its first sustained combat experience. In early 1968, its T-28Ds, A-1D Skyraiders and some MiG-17 jets were again sent to Takéo Province, dropping bombs on pre-planned targets in support of Royal Army troops conducting a campaign against armed elements of the Vietnamese Cao Đài militant sect that had entered the province from neighbouring South Vietnam;[8] AVRK combat elements were also deployed in the Samlot district of Battambang Province, where they bombed Khmer Rouge insurgent strongholds. In November 1969, the AVRK supported the Khmer Royal Army in a restrained sweeping operation targeting North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Vietcong (VC) sanctuaries at Labang Siek in Ratanakiri Province. Some T-28D fighter-bombers, L-19 reconnaissance aircraft and Alouette helicopters provided air cover to the ground operation, whilst a few combat sorties were staged by the MiG-17s and A-1D Skyraiders from Pochentong.[10][11]

Pre-1970 organization

In March 1970, the Royal Cambodian Air Force had a strength of 1,250 Officers and airmen under the command of Colonel Keu Pau Ann (who had replaced Major-General Dr. Ngo Hou in 1968), consisting in most part of flight crew personnel (pilots, navigators, flight engineers, radio operators, and flight mechanics) and ground technicians (air controllers, radar and radio station operators, mechanics, and auxiliary personnel). The main air elements of the AVRK Tactical Air Group consisted of four flight groups – one advanced training, one attack, one transport and liaison, and one helio – provided with a mixed inventory of 143 aircraft of 23 different types, mostly of French, American, Soviet, Chinese, Yugoslavian, and Canadian origin. Most of the aircraft and personnel were concentrated at the military airbase adjacent to the Pochentong International Airport at Phnom Penh, which also housed the Air Academy and the AVRK Headquarters, being structured as follows:

In addition to aircraft acquired or donated from friendly countries, the AVRK between 1962 and 1966 also incorporated on its inventory a small number of planes and helicopters flown into Cambodia by defecting South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) pilots, which included three A-1H Skyraiders and two Sikorsky H-34 helicopters.[12]

Security Battalion

To patrol its main facilities and aircraft in Pochentong against possible acts of sabotage or enemy attacks, the AVRK command raised in 1967-68 an airfield security battalion (French: Battaillon de Fusiliers de l'Air – BFA). Similar in function to the light infantry battalion comprising three rifle companhies maintained primarily for airfield security duties and static defence. Permantely allocated at Pochentong airbase and commanded by Air Force Major Sou Chhom, the battalion fielded some 200-300 airmen armed with obsolete French-made bolt-action rifles and sub-machine guns.[13]

Reorganization 1970-71

In the wake of the March 1970 coup, the Cambodian Air Force was re-designated Khmer National Air Force (French: Aviation nationale khmère; AVNK), though it remained however under Army command. Colonel Keu Pau Ann was replaced as the AVNK Chief-of-Staff by his deputy, Major (promptly promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel) So Satto, with Major Penn Randa becoming deputy Chief-of-Staff for tactical operations and Major Ea Chhong the deputy Chief-of-Staff for logistics.

An initial expansion of the AVNK in September 1970 under American auspices was accomplished with the delivery of six Bell UH-1H helicopter gunships with temporary South Vietnamese crews.

New airbases were laid down near the provincial capitals of Battambang (Air Base 123), Kampong Cham (Air Base 125) and Kampong Chhnang (Air Base 124), and near the Khmer National Navy's (MNK) coastal naval base at Ream (Air Base 122). Secondary airfields and assorted helipads were temporally set up at Kampot, Oudong, Kampong Thom, and Stung Mean Chey near Phnom Penh.

The Pochentong raid

On the night of 21–22 January 1971, a hundred or so-strong NVA 'Sapper' (Vietnamese: Dac Cong) 'Commando' force managed to pass undetected through the defensive perimeter of the Special Military Region (RMS) set by the Cambodian Army around Phnom Penh and carried out a spectacular raid on Pochentong Airbase. Broken into six smaller detachments armed mostly with AK-47 rifles and RPG-7 rocket launchers, the North Vietnamese 'Sappers' succeeded in scaling the barbed-wire fence and quickly overwhelmed the poorly armed airmen of the Security Battalion on duty that night. Once inside the facility, the 'Commandos' unleashed a furious barrage of small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades against any aircraft they found on the parking area adjacent to the runway and nearby buildings; one of the commando teams even scaled the adjoining commercial terminal of the civilian airport and after taking position at the international restaurant located on the roof, they fired a rocket into the napalm supply depot near the VNAF apron. When the smoke cleared the next morning, the Khmer National Aviation had been virtually annihilated. Most of the aircraft stationed at Pochentong at the time were either completely destroyed or severely damaged on the ground, including many T-28s, nearly all the Shenyang, MiG, T-37 and Fouga Magister jets, all the L-19s and An-2s, the UH-1H helicopter gunships, three VNAF O-1 Bird Dogs and even a VIP transport recently presented to President Lon Nol by the South Vietnamese government. Apart from the aircraft losses, 39 AVNK officers and enlisted men had lost their lives and another 170 were injured. The only airframes that escaped destruction were six T-28 Trojans temporarily deployed to Battambang, eight Alouette II and Alouette III helicopters, two Sikorsky H-34 helicopters and a single Fouga Magister jet that had been grounded for repairs. Pochentong airbase was closed for almost a week while the damage was assessed, wreckage removed, the runway repaired, and the stocks of fuel and ammunitions replenished.[14][15][16][17]

Reorganization 1971-72

The Cambodian Air Force was reborn on June 8, 1971, when it was made a separated command from the Army and thus became the third independent branch of the FANK. This new status was later confirmed on December 15, when the AVNK officially changed its name to Khmer Air Force (French: Armée de l'air khmère; AAK), or KAF.

Expansion 1972-74

By January 1975 KAF's strength had peaked to 10,000 Officers and airmen (including airwomen) under the command of Brig Gen Ea Chhong, equipped with a total inventory of 211 aircraft of several types distributed amongst the Tactical Air Group squadrons as follows:

Air Force Security Regiments

Following several attacks on Cambodian airfields early in the war, the KAF Security troops underwent a major reorganization by mid-1971. The battered BFA at Pochentong was expanded accordingly from a single rifle battalion of three companies, to a full regiment aligning three battalions, receiving the designation of 1st Air Force Security Regiment ([25]

Combat history

In the months following the March 1970 change of government, the new AVNK was thrown into heavy action. Its MiG, Shenyang and Fouga jets bombed and strafed NVA/VC troop concentrations and sanctuaries along the Takéo, Kandal, Svay Rieng, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri southern and eastern border provinces, while the T-28s were employed on combat sorties north of Phnom Penh and in Kampong Cham Province.

On October 7, 1972, the NVA hit Phnom Penh once again with a spectacular Sapper attack, in which a commando force of 103 men from the 367th Sapper Regiment raided the Cambodian Army armoured cavalry headquarters located at the Olympic Stadium in the northern outskirts of the Cambodian Capital, where an armoured vehicle park was housed.[26][27][28][29] The North Vietnamese raiders even managed to capture seven M-113 APCs and drove them out in column into the capital's streets, causing panic among the inhabitants. Initially taken by surprise, Cambodian Army troops took several hours to dominate the situation, and urgent air support was requested. The Khmer Air Force response came in the form of two AC-47 gunships whose firepower succeeded in disabling all the vehicles, thus stopping the column before it could reach the city's centre, and killing in the process 83 elements of the Sapper force and scattered the rest.[30][31]

On October 1973, the KAF went on to the offensive again with Operation ‘Thunderstrike’, a nine-day’ ground assault operation in support of Cambodian Army units fighting Khmer Rouge forces south of the Prek Thnoat River. Striking in that area located south of Phnom Penh between Routes 2 and 3, T-28 fighter-bomber pilots logged a record of seventy sorties a day.[32] Although both the 1st and 3rd Infantry Divisions were already trown on the defensive and failed to capitalize on ‘Thunderstrike’ by making no significant advances,[33] the FANK high Command was nonetheless impressed by their Air Force improved performance.

The Cambodian air force scored a major hit in March 1974, when another squadron of ten T-28 fighter-bombers guided by a single Cessna O-1D Bird Dog FAC spotter struck the NVA Dambe transhipment point in Kratié Province, where some 250 supply trucks laden with ammunitions lay hidden in a nearby plantation. After the KAF T-28 pilots dropped their 250 lb bombs over the plantation, they unexpectedly ignited a violent chain reaction which – based on the analysis of post-strike aerial reconnaissance photos – destroyed at least 125 trucks, a record for the Vietnam War.[32][34]

Operational hazards

On March 17, 1973, a disgruntled pro-Sihanouk KAF pilot, Capt So Patra, flew his T-28D fighter-bomber into downtown Phnom Penh and made a sudden dive-bomb attack over the Presidential Palace at the Chamkarmon District. A total of 43 people were killed and another 35 injured in the bombing, after which the pilot flew to Hainan Island in the South China Sea.[35][36]

On November 19, 1973, the Presidential Palace was struck yet again by another dissident pilot, Lt Pich Lim Khun, who subsequently deserted by flying its T-28D to Khmer Rouge-held Kratié Province.[32][37] As a result of this second air strike, President Lon Nol purged the KAF of who were considered to be disloyal elements.

On April 14, 1974, for the third time in the war, a defecting Cambodian pilot attempted an aerial assassination of the nation's chief executive. That morning, a T-28D fighter-bomber flown by the defector Khiev Yos Savath, dropped four 250 lb bombs over the FANK General Staff Headquarters (EMG). Two landed about 60 feet (about 19 meters) from where Lt Gen Sak Sutsakhan was chairing a cabinet meeting. Although the officials managed to escape unscathed, the bombs claimed the lives of seven people and several others were injured.[38]

Final operations 1974-75

It was only at the final months of the war that the Cambodian Air Force finally managed to exceed all previous performances. Taking full advantage of their air superiority, the KAF employed all available airframes to the limit – ranging from T-28D fighter-bombers, UH-1G helicopter gunships, and AC-47D and AU-24A gunships to T-37B jet trainers converted to the ground attack role, and even C-123K transports serving as improvised heavy bombers – launched an unprecedented number of combat sorties against Khmer Rouge forces massing around Phnom Penh. Operating against relatively light enemy anti-aircraft defences, Cambodian T-28 pilots logged over 1,800 daytime missions during a two-month period alone whilst the AU-24s and C-123s carried out at night bombing operations against entrenched enemy 107mm rocket positions north of the capital.[39]

Besides combat sorties, the KAF was also involved in last-minute evacuation efforts. On April 12, 1975, its T-28s and UH-1s provided air cover to the evacuation of the US Embassy staff (Operation Eagle Pull). The Air Force command also kept on stand-by seven UH-1H transport helicopters at an improvised helipad mounted on the grounds of Phnom Penh's National Stadium in the Cércle Sportif complex, ready to evacuate key members of the government.[40] However, three of the machines had to be abandoned due to technical malfunctions when the evacuation finally took place on the morning of April 17.[41] Amongst the small group of high-profile evacuees who boarded the remaining four helicopters heading for Kampong Thom was the KAF commander Brig Gen Ea Chhong.[42]

Despite their best efforts, the overstretched Khmer Air Force alone could not prevent the defeat of the Cambodian Army and stem the tide of the advancing Khmer Rouge forces. On April 16 KAF T-28s flew their last combat sortie by bombing the Air Force Control Centre and hangars at Pochentong upon its capture by insurgent units. After virtually expending their entire ordnance reserves, 97 aircraft[39][42] – consisting of 50 T-28Ds, 13 UH-1Hs, twelve O-1Ds, ten C-123Ks, seven AC-47Ds, three AU-24As, nine C-47s, and three T-41Ds – escaped from Pochentong, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang, and Ream airbases and auxiliary airfields flown by their respective crews (with a small number of civilian dependants on bord) to safe haven in neighbouring Thailand.[22]

The rest of the KAF personnel that remained in Cambodia – including the ground technicians, some pilots, and those airmen serving on the 1st Air Force Security Regiment at Pochentong – had no choice but to surrender, with most of them being executed by the Khmer Rouge. The last stand of the Khmer Air Force took place at Kampong Cham Air Base, where the airmen of the 2nd Air Force Security Regiment continued to resist for another week despite the official capitulation order, until they run out of ammunition. The airbase commander, together with his deputy, the local ground technicians and the airmen of the Security battalions were captured and reportedly executed in a gruesome manner.[42] Later unconfirmed reports however claim that a few qualified ex-KAF pilots and technicians escaped this fate by being pressed into service in the Air Force of the new Democratic Kampuchea Regime to fly and maintain the remaining French- and US-made aircraft left behind.


By 1975, Cambodian Air Force losses totalled 100 aircraft, mostly due to combat attrition, training accidents, and desertions, as well for other causes – between December 1971 and January 1972 four Alouette II and one Alouette III light helicopters were sent abroad for maintenance and general overhaul at the HAECO in Hong Kong, but there is no record that these airframes were ever returned to Cambodia.[13]

The Khmer Rouge did managed though to salvage at least twenty-two T-28D fighter-bombers, four GY-80 Horizon light trainers, ten T-37 jet trainers, nineteen T-41D trainers, seven C-123K transports, nine AU-24 mini-gunships, six AC-47D gunships, fourteen C-47 transports, twenty UH-1H and UH-1G helicopters, and three Alouette III light helicopters.[42] Of the twelve T-28s operated by the Khmer Rouge Air Force at Ream Air Base, at least five were destroyed on the ground when the US Air Force bombed the facility during the Mayaguez incident on May 15, 1975.[43] As for the other airframes, poor maintenance and a chronic shortage of spare parts ensured that only a handful of these was still serviceable by the time of the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978-79.

List of KAF commanders

Air Force uniforms and insignia

AVRK officers adopted early in the mid-1950s a Royal Blue overseas dress uniform, consisting of an tunic and slacks whose cut was modelled after the French Army M1946/56 khaki dress uniform (French: Vareuse d'officier Mle 1946/56 et Pantalon droit Mle 1946/56); a light summer version in white cotton was also issued.[39][44] On active service, the blue dress uniform was worn with a light blue shirt and royal blue tie, replaced on formal occasions by a white shirt and black tie; the latter combination was also worn with the white cotton summer dress. The French-style open-collar, four-buttoned tunic had two pleated breast pockets closed by pointed flaps and two unpleated pockets at the side closed by straight flaps (senior officers’ tunics sometimes had their side pockets closed by pointed flaps instead), and the sleeves were provided with turnbacks. The front fly and pocket flaps were secured by gilt buttons bearing the standard FARK emblem.

Camouflage uniforms

Privately purchased Thai camouflaged flight suits in "Highland" pattern were worn by Cambodian Air Force Douglas AC-47D Spooky gunship aircrews on occasion, such as the members of the first contingent sent in May–June 1971 to Udorn Air Base in Thailand for gunship training.[45][46]


On service dress, all Air Force ground personnel wore brown leather US M-1943 Combat Service Boots or French canvas-and-rubber ‘Pataugas’ tropical boots, and sandals; after 1970, the KAF standardized on American M-1967 black leather and Jungle boots, and South Vietnamese Bata boots, which replaced much of the older combat footwear.

Air Force Ranks

The AVRK used the same standard FARK/FANK French-style rank chart as the Army, though differing in some of its nomenclature and in color details. Flag and senior officers’ (French: Officiers généraux, officiers supérieurs et officiers subalternes) ranks were worn on light blue removable shoulder boards (with gold laurel-like leaf embroidery on the outer edge for generals) or shoulder strap slides, both with a miniature royal coat-of-arms featuring a winged crown device on the inner end; NCO and airmen (French: Sous-officiers et aviateurs) ranks were worn on both upper sleeves. On the field uniform, officers’ ranks were worn on chest tabs in lieu of the shoulder strap slides; Army-style metal chevrons pinned to the chest were worn by NCOs whilst airmen (French: Hommes de troupe) wore no insignia. After March 1970 the AVNK adopted Royal Blue shoulder boards and shoulder strap slides with a pair of stylised wings at the inner end, which replaced the earlier royal crest, but the basic rank sequence remained unchanged.[47] In 1972, some KAF officers began wearing on their flying suits or OG jungle fatigues metal pin-on collar rank insignia identical to the pattern adopted that same year by their Army counterparts.[48]

KAF Ranks Khmer language French Air Force ranks US Air Force ranks Insignia
Pʊəl too ពលទោ Aviateur de deuxième classe Airman Basic
(no insignia)
Pʊəl aek ពលឯក Aviateur de première classe Airman
Niey too នាយទោ Caporal Airman 1st Class
Niey aek នាយឯក Caporal-chef Senior Airman
Pʊəl baal trəy ពលបាលត្រី Sergent Staff Sergeant
Pʊəl baal too ពលបាលទោ Sergent-chef Master Sergeant
Pʊəl baal aek ពលបាលឯក Adjudant Chief Master Sergeant
Prɨn baal too ព្រឹន្ទបាលទោ Adjudant-chef Warrant Officer
Prɨn baal aek ព្រឹន្ទបាលឯក Aspirant Chief Warrant Officer
Aknu trəy អនុត្រី Sous-lieutenant 2nd Lieutenant
Aknu too អនុទោ Lieutenant 1st Lieutenant
Aknu aek អនុឯក Capitaine Captain
Vorak trəy វរត្រី Commandant Major
Vorak too វរទោ Lieutenant-Colonel Lieutenant Colonel
Vorak aek វរឯក Colonel Colonel
Utdɑm trəy ឧត្តមត្រី Général de brigade aérienne Brigadier-General
(one silver star)

See also


  1. ^ a b c Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 19.
  2. ^ Grandolini, Air Enthusiast 37 (1988), p. 40.
  3. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 213.
  4. ^ Nalty, Neufeld and Watson, An Illustrated Guide to the Air War over Vietnam (1982), p. 114.
  5. ^ Gunston, An Illustrated Guide to Military Helicopters (1981), p. 112.
  6. ^ Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 40, Plate A3.
  7. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), pp. 176; 214.
  8. ^ a b Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 214.
  9. ^ Jan Forsgren, Cambodia: Khmer Air Force History 1970-1975 (Part 1) -
  10. ^ Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 13.
  11. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 215.
  12. ^ Jan Forsgren, Cambodia: Khmer Air Force History 1970-1975 (Part 1) -
  13. ^ a b Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 218.
  14. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), pp. 217-218; 226.
  15. ^ Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), pp. 19-20.
  16. ^ Conboy, South-East Asian Special Forces (1991), p. 53.
  17. ^ Serra, L’armée nord-vietnamienne, 1954-1975 (2e partie) (2012), p. 38.
  18. ^ Davis and Greer, Gunships, A Pictorial History of Spooky (1982), pp. 63-64.
  19. ^ Davis and Greer, Gunships, A Pictorial History of Spooky (1982), pp. 13-14.
  20. ^ Gunston, An Illustrated Guide to Military Helicopters (1981), p. 18.
  21. ^ Sutsakhan, The Khmer Republic at War and the Final Collapse (1980), p. 183, Appendix C (Air Force Item).
  22. ^ a b Jan Forsgren, Cambodia: Khmer Air Force History 1970-1975 (Part 2) -
  23. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), pp. 218; 224, note 9.
  24. ^ Conboy, South-East Asian Special Forces (1991), p. 15.
  25. ^ Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 18.
  26. ^ Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 37.
  27. ^ Conboy and McCouaig, South-East Asian Special Forces (1991), pp. 53-54.
  28. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 194.
  29. ^ Serra, L’armée nord-vietnamienne, 1954–1975 (2e partie) (2012), p. 38.
  30. ^ Conboy, Bowra, and McCouaig, The NVA and Viet Cong (1992), pp. 12-13.
  31. ^ Grandolini, Armor of the Vietnam War (2): Asian Forces (1998), pp. 65-66.
  32. ^ a b c Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 21.
  33. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 152.
  34. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 221.
  35. ^ Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 20.
  36. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 219.
  37. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 220.
  38. ^
  39. ^ a b c Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 22.
  40. ^ Conboy and McCouaig (1991), p. 15.
  41. ^ Sutsakhan, The Khmer Republic at War and the Final Collapse (1980), p. 169.
  42. ^ a b c d Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 223.
  43. ^
  44. ^ Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975 (2011), p. 225.
  45. ^ Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 43, Plate E1.
  46. ^ Davis and Greer, Gunships, A Pictorial History of Spooky (1982), p. 14.
  47. ^ Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 23.
  48. ^ Conboy and Bowra, The War in Cambodia 1970-75 (1989), p. 45, Plate F3.


  • Albert Grandolini, "L'Aviation Royale Khmére: The first 15 years of Cambodian military aviation", Air Enthusiast 37, September–December 1988, pp. 39–47. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Elizabeth Becker, When the War was over Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution, Simon & Schuster, New York 1988. ISBN 1891620002
  • Kenneth Conboy, FANK: A History of the Cambodian Armed Forces, 1970-1975, Equinox Publishing (Asia) Pte Ltd, Djakarta 2011. ISBN 9789793780863
  • Kenneth Conboy, Kenneth Bowra, and Simon McCouaig, The War in Cambodia 1970-75, Men-at-arms series 209, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1989. ISBN 0-85045-851-X
  • Kenneth Conboy, Kenneth Bowra, and Simon McCouaig, The NVA and Viet Cong, Elite 38 series, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 1992. ISBN 9781855321625
  • Kenneth Conboy and Simon McCouaig, South-East Asian Special Forces, Elite series 33, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1991. ISBN 1-85532-106-8
  • Sak Sutsakhan, The Khmer Republic at War and the Final Collapse, U.S. Army Center of Military History, Washington 1980 [available online at Part 1]Part 2Part 3 Part 4.

Secondary sources

  • Albert Grandolini, Armor of the Vietnam War (2): Asian Forces, Concord Publications, Hong Kong 1998. ISBN 978-9623616225
  • Bernard C. Nalty, Jacob Neufeld and George M. Watson, An Illustrated Guide to the Air War over Vietnam, Salamander Books Ltd, London 1982. ISBN 978-0668053464
  • Bill Gunston, An Illustrated Guide to Military Helicopters, Salamander Books Ltd, London 1981. ISBN 978-0861011100
  • Frédéric Serra, L’armée nord-vietnamienne, 1954–1975 (2e partie), in Armes Militaria Magazine n.º 322, May 2012. (in French)
  • George Dunham, U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Bitter End, 1973–1975 (Marine Corps Vietnam Operational Historical Series), Marine Corps Association, 1990. ISBN 978-0160264559
  • Larry Davis and Don Greer, Gunships, A Pictorial History of Spooky - Specials series (6032), Squadron/Signal Publications, 1982. ISBN 0-89747-123-7
  • William Shawcross, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia, André Deutsch Limited, 1979. ISBN 0233970770

External links

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