Morocco to buy Sidewinder


The Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Morocco of 20 Raytheon AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder missiles, as well as associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of US$50 million.

Morocco has requested a possible sale of 20 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Missiles, 10 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles All-Up-Round Block II Missiles, eight CATM-9X-2 Block II Missile Guidance Units, and 8 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units, two Dummy Air Training Missiles, containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, US Government and contractor technical assistance and other related logistics support.
“The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by supporting Morocco’s legitimate need for its own self-defence,” the agency told the Pentagon. Morocco is one of the most stable and pro-Western of the Arab states, and the US remains committed to a long-term relationship with Morocco, it added.

The Royal Moroccan Air Force is modernising its fighter aircraft to better support its own air defence needs. The proposed sale of AIM-9X missiles will greatly enhance Morocco’s interoperability with the US and other NATO nations, making it a more valuable partner in an increasingly important area of the world. The proposed sale of this weapon system will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The Royal Moroccan Air Force is already an operator of the Sidewinder (the older B, D and J models) among other US and European missiles, mounting them on its fleet of 89 combat-capable aircraft.

The 2011 edition of the authoritative International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance lists these as eight Northrop F5A Freedom Fighters, two F5B trainers, 20 F5E Tiger II and three F5F Tiger II fighters. In the ground attack role, the Royal Moroccan Air Force operates some 19 Dassault Mirage F1C and 14 F1EH.