March 30, 2023

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Morocco strengthens its air force to support stability in the region | Athalayar

Morocco is gradually becoming a regional and global military power. The Kingdom of Morocco now has a modern air force that holds back all armies in the world. In a tense environment in the region, the Moroccan Institute for Political Analysis (MIPA), in a document signed by researcher Francesco Macchi, highlights the ongoing new acquisitions and orders. The strengthening of the Royal Air Force through the acquisition of new weapons and technologies is partially explained by economic reasons, but above all by strategic reasons, its nature is linked to defense and the maintenance of stability and balance in the region.

The Moroccan Air Force – as of the publication of this article – has 23 F-16 fighter jets whose software will be upgraded within the next year. Last year, the US State Department approved the sale of 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighter jets. Acquisition of F-100 installation engines from Raytheon Technologies is also underway. These engines will be used in F-16 fighter jets. 24 AH-64 Apache helicopters will be delivered to Morocco from 2024, after 12 optional Boeing aircraft ordered in 2020 as part of a $4.25 billion deal. According to the latter report, the North African country aims to expand its fleet of drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and “potential warfare” purposes, while developing its own capabilities to develop similar systems.

Photo/United States Army – Gen. Todd Wasmond, commander of the US Army’s task force in Morocco, Southern Europe Africa

Other acquisitions mentioned in the MIPA document include: four MQ-9B Seagardian drones, equipped with laser-guided munitions and GPS; The Barak MX anti-missile system, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), received a prototype in January; Harrop kamikaze drones are expected to be delivered to Morocco by the end of February; and Mirage 2000-9 aircraft are also expected to be sourced from the UAE. Morocco has purchased thirteen Bayraktar TB2 combat drones from Turkey, from which it has ordered six more. The Kingdom of Alaouite has also ordered the VL MICA surface-to-air defense system from French firm MBDA under a $192 million contract.

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An increase in armaments leads to an increase in the cost of maintaining these equipments. To this end, Morocco intends to strengthen the aircraft maintenance, repair and manufacturing sector, including drones, to reduce dependence on imports and potential exports. Military spending alone has increased since the emergence of Covid, rising 4.3% year-on-year since 2020. However, this is not enough to match the spending of its neighbor Algeria. It invests around 5.5% of its GDP. According to Francisco Maki, a researcher at MIPA, the kingdom can play an important role in the Middle East, thus diverting capital invested by other neighboring countries such as Libya and Algeria.

AFP/FADEL SENNA – A Royal Moroccan Air Force CH-47 Chinook military helicopter “African Lion” takes off during the second annual military exercise.

This is possible thanks to Morocco’s long-standing relationship with the United States and Israel and its peaceful diplomatic approach, which has allowed it to strengthen its ties with Israel while maintaining its long-standing position on the Palestinian issue. Strengthening Morocco’s military capabilities is linked to US foreign military sales policy, It aims to strengthen national security by increasing the capabilities of allies. Both countries work together to support each other in matters of national security and engage in joint military exercises with other countries such as the African Lion.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports that the United States is Morocco’s main arms supplier, accounting for 76% of its total arms imports over the period 2017-2021. According to the same source, the United States is the only country that has bought Moroccan arms every year since 2009. In 2021, Morocco purchased arms for $203 million out of a total value of $225 million. . The researcher concludes his study on the analysis of the air forces of Morocco, emphasizing that they are very deterrent forces with a strategy prepared for the defense of the region.

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