Morocco seeking HIMARS and JSOW weapons from the United States

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The United States has approved two foreign military sales to Morocco, for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and Joint Stand Off Weapons (JSOW) that are collectively worth over $750 million.

The US State Department on 11 April announced the possible sales, after notifying Congress. Morocco has requested to buy 18 M142 HIMARS launchers along with nine M1152A1 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), practice rocket pods, radios, 18 FMTV resupply vehicles, three FMTV wrecker trucks, 18 M1095 trailers and other equipment. Along with ammunition, the sale value is $524 million.

Morocco wants to arm the HIMARS launchers with 40 M57 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) rounds; 36 M31A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) Unitary rounds; and 36 M30A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) Alternative Warhead rounds. The ATACMS is essentially a short-range ballistic missile, able to reach targets out to a maximum of 300 km. The GMLRS Unitary round has a range of 70 km and carries a 100 kg warhead, providing precision strike for point targets. The GMLRS Alternative Warhead round has a range of more than 70 km and carries a 100 kg fragmenting warhead. One HIMARS vehicle can carry a six-pack of GMLRS rockets or one ATACMS missile.

If the HIMARS sale proceeds, it will make Morocco the first North African country to receive the system – only Jordan and the United Arab Emirates possess the Lockheed Martin-manufactured rocket launcher in the region. HIMARS has been delivered to Ukraine, where it has proven effective against Russian forces, but Ukraine has not received ATACMS missiles.

The HIMARS will complement WS-2D multiple rocket launchers acquired from China five years ago. The WS-2D has a range of 400 km and can carry a 200 kg warhead. Up to six rockets can be launched from a single launcher. Morocco also acquired a dozen PHL-03 (AR-2) 300 mm multiple rocket launchers from China over a decade ago.

“The proposed sale will improve Morocco’s capability to meet current and future threats and will contribute to Morocco’s ability to detect threats and control its borders, contributing to the maintenance of regional stability and security. It will also enhance the interoperability of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR), which routinely exercises with forces, focusing on countering terrorism and Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs) in the Maghreb and Sahel region,” the US State Department said of the HIMARS sale.

Also on 11 April, the US approved a $250 million sale of 40 Raytheon Joint Stand Off Weapons and related equipment to Morocco. Also included are dummy air training missiles, spares and other equipment. Morocco intends to use the weapons on its F-16 multi-role fighter aircraft especially for patrolling sea lanes.

“The proposed sale of these missiles and support will increase the Royal Moroccan Air Force’s maritime partnership potential and align its capabilities with existing regional baselines,” the US Department of State said.

Morocco’s two main equipment suppliers are France and the United States, with the latter now accounting for the majority of imported military hardware. In recent years this has included F-16V Viper combat aircraft, AH-64E Apache combat helicopters, M1A1SA Abrams tanks, M113 armoured personnel carriers, TOW anti-tank missiles, M109 howitzers and various other weapons.