Cambodian army receives AR2 300mm MLRS rocket launcher vehicles from China

According to a video published on the Twitter account of Jesus Roman on May 28, 2022, China has delivered at least 6 AR2 300 mm MLRS Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (R2 is an export designation of the NORINCO PHL-03), 2 Wanshan WS2400 TELs (Transporter Erector Launcher), and 2 Wanshan WS2500 TELs. After years of U.S.-supplied weapons in the 1990s and early 2000s, Cambodia switched to its former ally of the Khmer Rouge period (1973-1989) to buy a wide range of tanks, armored and soft-skin vehicles, and weapons. 
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Cambodia took delivery of Chinese-made AR2 300mm MLRS Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. (Picture source: Twitter account of Jesus Roman)

The Royal Cambodian Army (RCAF) is now widely equipped with Chinese-made weaponry and vehicles.


The PHL-03, also referred to as the Type 03 Multiple Launch Rocket System is a Chinese version of the Soviet BM-30 Smerch. It was developed by NORINCO and reportedly entered service with the Chinese army in 2004-2005. The PHL-03 is also being proposed for export customers as the AR2. It is in service with Morocco: one battalion is equipped with 36 units.

The PHL-03 retains the original Russian configuration with 12 launch tubes for 300 mm artillery rockets. A standard rocket weighs around 800 kg and has a 280 kg warhead. The maximum range of fire is 70-130 km depending on the warhead type. Rockets are available with High Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG), fuel-air explosive, and cluster warheads with anti-armor and anti-personnel submunitions. Cluster warheads may also carry self-targeting anti-tank munitions. A full salvo of this system could potentially cover an area of up to 67 hectares.

Even though the PHL-03 is a Chinese version of the Smerch, it appears that the Chinese overtook the Russians in terms of rockets, as rockets of the PHL-03 have a longer range than those of the Smerch. Manufacturers claim that Chinese 300 mm rockets are not compatible with the Russian Smerch rockets as these use different propellant motors and components. This artillery rocket system has a digital fire control system. The PHL-03 is operated by a crew of 4.

The PHL-03 is mounted on a Wanshan WS2400 special 8x8 chassis. The reloading vehicle is based on the same 8x8 chassis and is fitted with a hydraulic crane. It carries 12 rockets.

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NORINCO PHL-03 MLRS 300mm Multiple Launch Rocket System. (Picture source: Chinese MoD)

Wanshan WS2400 TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher)

The WS2400 is an 8x8 special heavy-duty truck developed and built by Wanshan Special Vehicle and used by the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China as a transporter erector launcher (TEL) platform and is a reverse-engineered version of the MAZ-543 missile Transporter erector launcher. A TEL is widely used by the PLA due to the sheer number of Chinese SRBM assets. The WS2400 is one of the principal mobile workhorse/platforms in mounting and firing China's short-range ballistic missiles.

Wanshan Special Vehicle is a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Aerospace Sanjiang Space Co. Ltd, which is in turn a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC)]. The advantage of the WS2400 compared to the MAZ is that it utilizes a German diesel engine, transmission and hydraulics manufactured by Wanshan in China, built using technologies transferred from ZF Friedrichshafen and Allison Transmission.

The WS2400 has a maximum payload capacity of 22 tons. It is used as the base for a number of conventional and ballistic missile systems the DF-11 SRBM and A-100 MRL platforms. The much larger WS2500 and WS2600 is a more developed evolution of the WS2400 meant to carry MRBMs and IRBMs.

Wanshan WS2500 TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher)

The WS2500 is a 20-ton 10x8 or 10x10 special heavy-duty truck used by the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China. It is one of the principal mobility platforms in mounting China's medium-range ballistic missiles and other conventional missile assets. It is a general-purpose heavy-duty truck/transported developed from the original WS2400 and is built by Wanshan Special Vehicle.

As a more developed variant of the WS2400, the WS2500 was introduced in 2000 and is capable of mounting more advance and sophisticated MRBMs such as the DF-16s, rather than the much older DF-11 SRBM system. Due to the much larger missile payload - 1,000–1,500 kg more than previous models - the WS2500 is generally much larger and heavier than the older WS2400, in order to better accommodate a stable platform for the DF-16.

On the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, a heavily modified variant of the WS2500 was seen carrying the DF-17 ballistic missile, armed with the DF-ZF Hypersonic Glide Vehicle.