Morocco looking to purchase additional F-16s, upgrade existing fleet

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The Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) is looking to acquire an additional batch of F-16 Fighting Falcons from the United States and upgrade its existing fleet, with the country requesting 25 of the latest Block 72 fighters worth some $3.8 billion.

On 25 March the US State Department said it had made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Morocco of 25 F-16C/D Block 72 aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $3.787 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the possible sale on 22 March.

The Moroccan request includes 29 Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines (includes 4 spares); 26 APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars (includes one spare); 26 Modular Mission Computers (includes one spare); 26 Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems – JTRS (MIDS-JTRS) with TACAN and ESHI Terminals (includes one spare); 26 LN260 Embedded Global Navigation Systems (EGI) (including one spare); 40 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS) (includes five spares); and 26 Improved Programmable Display Generators (iPDG) (including one spare).

Weapons requested include 30 M61 Al Vulcan 20mm Guns (including five spares); 50 LAU-129 Multi-Purpose Launchers; 40 AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM); three GBU-38/54 JDAM Tail Kits; 50 Paveway II guided bombs, and 60 GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs (SDB I).

Also included are 26 AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Pods, 26 AN/ALQ-213 EW Management Systems, 26 Advanced Identification Friend/Foe systems, 26 AN/ALQ-211 AIDEWS defensive aids systems and six DB-110 Advanced Reconnaissance Systems.

At the same time as the request for 25 new fighters, Morocco requested upgrades to its 23 existing F-16s, which would bring them to F-16V standard at a cost of $985.2 million. Congress was also notified of the possible sale on 22 March.



The requested buy includes 26 APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, 26 Modular Mission Computers, 26 Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems – JTRS (MIDS-JTRS) with TACAN and ESHI Terminals, 26 LN260 Embedded Global Navigation Systems (EGI), 26 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems II, 26 Improved Programmable Display Generators (iPDG), 50 LAU-129 Multi-Purpose Launchers; and 26 AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Pods.

Electronic systems include 26 AN/ALQ‑213 EW Management Systems; 26 Advanced Identification Friend/Foe systems; 26 AN/ALQ‑211 AIDEWS defensive aids systems; and six DB-110 Advanced Reconnaissance Systems.

The State Department said the proposed sale will contribute to Morocco’s self-defence capabilities. “The purchase will improve interoperability with the United States and enhance Morocco’s ability to undertake coalition operations, as it has done in the past in flying sorties against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.”

Should the deal be concluded, Lockheed Martin will be the prime contractor.

In December 2009 Morocco placed an $841.9 million contract with Lockheed Martin for 18 single-seat F-16Cs and six two-seat F-16Ds. These were delivered between August 2011 and August 2012. They have received some upgrades over the years, including AN/ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) systems from Harris Corporation.

Morocco’s F-16s are equipped with a variety of extra equipment, including Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pods, Goodrich DB-110 airborne reconnaissance pods and Raytheon’s Advanced Countermeasures Electronic System (ACES). Armament includes AIM-9X Block II Sidewinders with lock on after launch capability, AGM-65D Maverick air-to-surface missiles and Enhanced GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb kits.

Morocco’s F-16s are deployed at Ben Guerir Air Base north of Marrakech. Since entering service they have been used to strike Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria from late 2014 and have been used to strike Houthi targets in Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition there. One was lost in a crash in Yemen in May 2015 due to apparent technical failure.