The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces (FAR) have apparently received the first Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on order from Turkey.
Photos circulating online in late September apparently show Bayraktar TB2s ready for shipment to Morocco, with deliveries of 13 UAVs apparently beginning on 17 September after a deal was signed in April. It has also been reported that Moroccan armed forces personnel started training on the aircraft in Turkey in July.
While the North African country has used UAVs for surveillance purposes, notably Harfang aircraft, the latest acquisition shows that the Royal Moroccan Air Force may use UAVs for air-to-ground operations as the Bayraktar TB2 can be armed with a variety of munitions. Indeed, it is combat proven by the Turkish Armed Forces and other countries, notably in Syria.
In April, it was reported that a Moroccan UAV took part in an air strike against Polisario Front (a rebel national liberation movement by the Sahrawi people, heavily backed by Algeria) operatives in the Western Sahara region. Morocco is not known to have acquired armed UAVs, but is suspected to have possibly acquired Wing Loong aircraft from China, although there is little evidence of this at present.
Morocco is already using French Heron (Harfang) and US MQ-1 Predator drones. It also has MQ-9B SeaGuardian aircraft on order from the US. On the smaller end of the scale, Morocco flies the BlueBird Aero Systems WanderB-VTOL aircraft.
The majority of the Royal Moroccan Air Force’s aircraft are dated, having been acquired in the 1980s. However, modern aircraft has been bought over the last decade. F-16 fighter jets arrived in 2012 with some still on order.
The Bayraktar TB2 has been sold to Ukraine, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Poland. Saudi Arabia, Albania and Latvia has also shown interest in the UAV.