Morocco’s military has apparently taken delivery of three Harfang (Heron) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a number of years after expressing interest in acquiring them from France.
According to Intelligence Online, the Moroccan military received the three Israel Aerospace Industries-built UAVs on 26 January. The aircraft will most likely monitor rebels in the Western Sahara.
They were apparently ordered in 2014 under a $48 million contract with France’s Dassault, which acted as the intermediary between France and Morocco. The Harfangs were previously used by the French military over Afghanistan, Libya, Niger and Mali, amongst others.
According to Defenceworld, the package includes the three aircraft as well as ground stations, spares and support.
News of Moroccan interest in the Harfangs emerged in 2014 when it was reported that the Royal Moroccan Air Force was evaluating the purchase of additional Heron 1/Harfang systems via France. The Harfang was produced by Airbus Defence and Space in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries.
The Heron-based Harfang is a combat-proven intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) system in the medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV category with an endurance of over 20 hours. It is equipped with optronic sensors and radar, which ensure that missions can be carried out around the clock in all weather conditions.
The Harfang UAS has been successfully operated since November 2008 by the French Air Force. For three years (2009-2012), the Harfang was deployed in Afghanistan to support the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops. In 2011, Harfang was also deployed at the Sigonella base in Italy as part of the Harmattan operation conducted in Libya. More recently, the Harfang UAS was used in several French operations in the Sahel region in Africa, notably since January 2013 in Operation Serval in Mali.