Morocco acquiring new air defence systems

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Morocco’s government has approved a 192 million euro purchase of weapons from France’s MBDA, which are believed to be VL MICA air defence systems.

Saad Dine El Otmani, the head of Morocco’s government, approved Decree No. 346.20.0 on 11 May to purchase an unspecified package of weapons from MBDA. The approval came after the government on 28 April obtained a loan of 192.1 million euros from France’s BNP Paribas to finance this “commercial contract”, concluded between the National Defence Administration and MBDA. The decree was published in Morocco’s Official Bulletin on 18 May.

While the system from MBDA was not disclosed, French media earlier reported that Morocco was acquiring four VL MICA surface-to-air missile batteries from France, after ordering 40 Caesar 155 mm artillery systems for 170 million euros and ammunition worth 30 million euros from Nexter.

The VL MICA system comprises of a series of truck-mounted elements, including a tactical operations centre, Sagem SIGMA 30 radar, and launcher vehicles that can carry between three and six multi-round launchers with the missiles in clusters of four rounds. The MICA fire-and-forget missile, capable of being fitted with either a heat-seeking homing head or with an active radar seeker head, has an interception range of up to 20 km.

The future acquisition is part of Morocco’s five-year plan, established in 2017, to achieve “regional supremacy” by modernizing the military equipment of its military forces.

France and Morocco enjoy close economic and defence ties – between 2008 and 2018, France sold Morocco some 1.8 billion euros worth of military equipment, including two satellites. Most recently, Morocco acquired three Harfang (Heron) unmanned aerial vehicles from France in January.



Morocco is meanwhile acquiring large amounts of military hardware from the United States, including 24 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, 25 F-16Vs, M88A2 recovery vehicles and second hand C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. It has also acquired more than 200 M1 Abrams main battle tanks from the United States.