French Navy Displays Helicopter to RCAF Officers

The French Navy on Friday paraded in front of RCAF officers a helicopter it hoped Cambodian forces would use, though there is no ongoing discussion of an armament deal between the two countries, officials said.

“For the time being, I am not aware of any particular, specific projects for armament between France and Cambodia, which doesn’t mean of course that the two armed forces aren’t thinking about it,” said Vice Admiral Gerard Valin, who commands French troops in the Indian Ocean and was visiting Cambodia from Thursday to Sunday.

A Panther helicopter, part of the fleet aboard the French frigate Nivose anchored in Sihanoukville until Tuesday, was used in a demonstration of rescue operations followed by a close-up look at the chopper Friday at the base of the 911 paratroopers brigade in Kandal province.

Asked if RCAF could be equip­ped with the helicopters, Lieutenant General Eth Sarath, deputy director of the joint staff at the Ministry of Defense, said “it depends on the government.”

The combat and rescue helicopter, built by Eurocopter, a division of the European aerospace and defense giant EADS, could be used in Cambodia to protect territorial waters, rescue people during natural disasters and access remote parts of the jungle, Valin said.

“Having a helicopter, it’s like having a maid that does everything,” he said.

Uk Seiha, commander of the Ream navy base, said the two navies were discussing possible joint training before the Nivose leaves Cam­bodian waters Tuesday, but de­clined to give more details.

    (Additional reporting by Saing Soenthrith)

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