Morocco to receive M1A1 Abrams tanks


The Moroccan Army will receive at least 50 second hand M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks from the United States under a Foreign Military Sales arrangement, as part of a commitment for 200 tanks.

On 28 August the US Army awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a $17 million contract to remove and dispose of 50 M1A1 frontal armour packages and install the M1A1 situational awareness frontal turret armour packages for the Kingdom of Morocco.

The work will be carried out at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) in Lima, Ohio, with an estimated completion date of 30 November 2016, reports IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.

US Senator Rob Portman, Representative for Ohio, said the foreign sales are key to keeping the Abrams line and workforce at the plant running for the US Army’s future needs, reports Daily Lima News, which said that Portman began talking to Moroccan officials two years ago about the Abrams tank programme. “I am pleased that the Moroccan government is looking to further build upon this relationship by procuring the Ohio-built Abrams tank,” Portman said in a press release following a June 2013 meeting with Moroccan ambassador to the US Rachad Bouhlal.

In June 2012 the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco for enhancement and refurbishment of 200 M1A1 Abrams tanks and associated parts, equipment, logistical support and training for an estimated cost of $1.015 billion.

Morocco does not currently operate the M1 and the M1A1 Special Armour (SA) configuration tanks are to be provided as part of a grant Excess Defense Article (EDA). The upgrade covers the provision and installation of 150 AN/VRC-87E and 50 AN/VRC-89E Exportable Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS), 200 M2 Chrysler Mount Machine Guns, and 400 7.62MM M240 Machine Guns. The possible sale also included 12 049 842 ammunition rounds (including 1400 C785 SABOT, 1800 CA31 HEAT, and 5400 AA38 SLAP-T), 200 M250 Smoke Grenade Launchers, support equipment, spares and training.

According to the World Defence Almanac 2015, Morocco’s tank inventory includes some 48 T-72s, 320 M60s (including 120 M60A3TTS), 184 M-48A5s (in storage) and 116 Austrian SK-105 Kürassier light tanks (also in storage). The sole African user of the Abrams has been Egypt, which also co-produces the vehicle.

The US and Morocco regularly hold joint exercises, such as Saharan Express and Phoenix Express.

In recent years, the Royal Moroccan Air Force received 24 Block 52 F-16 Fighting Falcons from Lockheed Martin, fitted with Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 Enhanced Engine Package engines and Raytheon ACES electronic warfare suites.