New military aircraft maintenance facility being established in Morocco


Sabca and Sabena Aerospace, part of Belgium’s Blueberry Group, together with Lockheed Martin, are establishing a military aircraft maintenance facility in Morocco.

The Blueberry Group announced the partnership on 14 April and the subsequent creation of Maintenance Aero Maroc (MAM). The partnership supports the sustainment requirements of the Royal Moroccan Air Force and brings high-tech jobs and technical abilities to the country, it said.

“This project represents the first achievement in the framework of the recent law aimed at enabling the Kingdom of Morocco to develop a military-industrial and defence activity and to draw strategic and economic benefits from it,” Blueberry Group stated.

The partnership includes the construction of a 15 000 square metre Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade (MRO&U) centre for military aircraft and helicopters at Benslimane Airport and supports the creation of up to 300 jobs.

Maintenance Aero Maroc (MAM) will be the operators of the new facility, “providing an industrial benefit to the Belgian Group through continued sustainment opportunities on Lockheed Martin platforms,” including F-16 Fighting Falcon jets and C-130 Hercules transports.

“Our Group has 50 years’ experience maintaining, repairing and upgrading aircraft such as the C-130 and the F-16,” said Stéphane Burton, CEO of the Blueberry Group. “We are extremely proud to start this new partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco and Lockheed Martin, offering high quality sustainment services for the Moroccan Air Force and then rapidly to other customers in the region. We are very happy to see MAM joining our international network of MRO&U solutions, bringing opportunities to develop new expertise on other platforms.

“We are proud to share our experience with Morocco and look forward to all that we will learn from each other as we manage a robust set of industrial partnerships that aligns to Morocco’s priorities and builds on our history of successful collaboration efforts,” said Danya Trent, Lockheed Martin vice president – F-16 Programme.

“The significant cooperation is the result of several years of evaluation and discussions that will ensure the Kingdom of Morocco receives the best possible industrial facility, equipment, training and certification to support the sustainment requirements of the Royal Moroccan Air Force and other international customers.”

The Blueberry Group has been operating in Morocco since 2012 through its subsidiary Sabca Maroc, which recently announced an investment of more than 180 million Moroccan dirhams (17 million euros) for the construction of a new 16 000 square metre facility that will house a Pilatus, Airbus and Dassault aerostructure assembly line in the Nouaceur area.

The Group also participated, in cooperation with the Moroccan Air Force, in the modernization of their Dassault Mirage F1 and Alpha Jet aircraft. This project represents an additional development of the Blueberry group in the Kingdom of Morocco with the first maintenance activities in Benslimane set to start this year on the C-130 Hercules.

The Royal Moroccan Air Force flies 12 C-130H transport and two KC-130H tanker aircraft, complemented by four C-27J Spartans, seven CN-235s and several Do 28s. In June 2019 Morocco requested two surplus C-130H Hercules from the United States, and two have been allocated along with six C-130 external fuel tanks and six pylons.

The Royal Moroccan Air Force currently flies 23 F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft that it received from 2011 to 2012 (one was lost over Yemen during operations as part of the Saudi-led coalition). The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency approved the upgrade of these aircraft to the latest F-16V Block 70/72 standard. In March 2019, the US State Department approved the sale of 25 new F-16C/D Block 72 aircraft.