RCAF to Begin Testing New Rocket Launchers

The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) will today begin a five-day exercise testing a new multiple rocket launcher in Kompong Speu province, the armed forces’ third such training event this year.

Defense Minister Tea Banh will preside over RCAF’s first-ever testing of the RM-70 truck-mounted rocket launcher, a Czechoslovakian-designed upgrade of the Russian-designed BM-21 that had been used in the past.

“This type of rocket we will fire is not a BM-21, it is a more modern kind of rocket launcher so we need to provide training,” said Lieutenant General Nop Ratana, a commander at the ACO Tank Headquarters in Phnom Sruoch district where the live-fire exercise will take place.

The BM-21 and RM-70 are identical truck-mounted launchers, aside from the RM-70’s armored cab and capacity to store an extra 40 rockets on top of the 40 that are loaded into the launcher.

Like the BM-21, the RM-70 has a 20 km range and can unload all 40 rockets in 20 seconds.

Lt. Gen. Ratana declined to say how much the five-day exercise would cost, but did say that there would be a significant number of live missiles fired.

“Many truck[load]s of rockets with many RM-70 type rockets will be fired, with the biggest day on December 30,” he said.

According to a number of websites, the 122-mm rockets fired from the launcher can cost anywhere between $1,200 and $3,800 for each missile. At that rate, one single firing of an RM-70 will cost the country at least $48,000.

Lt. Gen. Ratana declined to say from where the new artillery had been purchased.

RCAF also held a live-fire exercise at the same base in April. In October, the military police conducted a one-day weapons exercise in Kompong Chhnang province.

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