Seduced by the Turkish armed drones Bayraktar TB2, the FAR will have to order 6 new drones of the same type, continuing the modernization of the Moroccan air force, with the upcoming acquisition of Israeli and American unmanned aircraft and systems anti-drones.
After having received a first order for the 13 Turkish armed drones Bayraktar TB2, Morocco is in the process of ordering a new batch of 6 drones of the same type. “The army of the Kingdom is preparing to place another order of armed drones Bayraktar TB2, from the Turkish Baykar, in the midst of soaring tensions in Western Sahara and with the Algerian neighbor,” media reported on Thursday.
They recall that “last September, Moroccan airmen traveled to Turkey to train in piloting Turkish armed drones, alongside their Qatari counterparts”.
Friday, September 17, Morocco had received the first Turkish combat drones Bayraktar TB2, while the other units were “expected soon in accordance with the contract signed between the Kingdom and the Turkish manufacturer Baykar last April”, reported the Far-Maroc specialized forum. Several members of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) also reportedly received aircraft training in Turkey in July. Already used for intelligence purposes, these new commands aim to “acquire the dissuasive capacities” necessary for the defense of the borders and the interests of the kingdom and to ensure air-to-ground strikes from drones.
Reuters reported last month that Turkish exports to Morocco amounted to $ 78.6 million (MAD 712 million) in the first three months of this year with $ 62 million (MAD 561.6 million) in September alone – against 402,000 dollars (3.6 million dirhams) last year.
American and Israeli drones
Other suppliers are also in demand for the purchase of drones. In fact, Israeli media reported that Morocco ordered from the state-owned Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) a batch of Israeli drones, of the Harop type, also called unmanned kamikaze planes. The contract amount is around $ 22 million. Already in October, several international media reported the imminent conclusion of an agreement between Morocco and Israel for the sale of Harop drones, in the wake of the resumption of diplomatic relations.
The Moroccan Air Force has already operated, for several years, three Israeli Heron-type drones, received from France and produced by Airbus Defense and Space in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries. From the Israelis, the FAR have also acquired the “Skylock Dome”, an anti-drone defense system, which is “extremely effective, offering individual and broad protection against the growing threat of attack drones”.
Morocco has also turned to the United States to equip itself with drones. In the wake of the American recognition of the Moroccan character of the Sahara, on December 10, Reuters revealed that the United States was negotiating the sale to Morocco of at least four large sophisticated aerial drones of the SeaGuardian MQ-9B type. Manufactured by the company General Atomics, these four drones have a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,100 km) and could inspect immense areas at sea and above the desert.
The new drones ordered by Morocco have prompted rival Algeria to turn to China. In September, after having already purchased Chinese CH 4 Rainbow drones, Algeria announced an order for 24 Wing Loong II unmanned aircraft, for deliveries scheduled from the end of 2021.