Deciphering Morocco’s military procurement strategy

Posted on | juni 1, 2011 | No Comments

On May 17, 2011, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) advised congress on a possible foreign military sale (FMS) estimated at about 50 million U.S. dollars to Morocco. In a continuous effort to revamp its air force inventory, Morocco had submitted a military procurement order to the U.S. government for 20 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II Missiles; in addition to the Sidewinders, the package will include 10 CATM-9X-2 block II missiles, 8 CATM-9X-2 Block II Missile Guidance Units, eight AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units, two Dummy Air Training Missiles, containers, missile support and test equipment. The missiles will be delivered All-Up-Round (AUR) by Raytheon’s Missile Systems branch in Tucson, AZ.

The AIM-9 missile is a supersonic, launch and leave air-to-air missile that uses passive infrared energy (heat) for the acquisition and tracking of targets. It will be mounted on the 24 F-16 Block 52+ fighter jets Morocco purchased from Lockheed Martin for 2.4 billion U.S. dollars. This missile is used for self-defense purposes in dogfights – close range air combat situation not exceeding 20 kilometers. It features an imaging infrared focal plane array (FPA) seeker with claimed 90° off-boresight capability and a new three-dimensional thrust-vectoring control (TVC) system providing increased turn capability over traditional control surfaces. Combined with the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, AIM-9X-2 delivers combined kill ratios exceeding 50:1 against nonhigh-off-boresight equipped fighters; the pilot can lock-on a target by having eyes on it giving him first shot first kill dominance. The missile is highly popular and the U.S. congress authorized its sale to over forty countries.

In conjunction with Morocco’s previous defense procurements such as the 24 F-16 Block 52+ fighter jets, and the DB-110 airborne reconnaissance system from Goodrich Corporation, the AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II missiles will enhance the high-impact capability of Morocco’s Royal Air Force and improve the country’s interoperability with U.S. and NATO militaries.

The DSCA, in its report to congress, indicated that the sale will not affect the balance of power in the region and justified it as “supporting Morocco’s legitimate need for its own self-defense.” From what, or whom? Might you ask. Certainly not Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) which government officials consider to be the biggest threat facing Morocco today. Analysts agree that Morocco and Algeria will not engage in open conventional warfare; Neither NATO nor the U.S. will allow two of their key partners in the war against terrorism to offset regional stability allowing AQIM to gain a strategic advantage.

Morocco has many enemies, but none against whom it will engage in a declared and conventionally weaponized skirmish. The Royal Armed Forces participation in joint and combined war games such as Phoenix Express and African Lion with European and U.S. militries, its billions of dollars in military procurements, at a time when the national budget deficit rose by more than 20 percent to 6.3 billion dirhams and the state is struggling to keep its 2011 budget deficit at its targeted 3.5 percent, aims at keeping NATO and the U.S. commited to supporting its regime. More than any military hardware, Morocco’s military engagement is its strongest defense. It didn’t work quite well for Hosni Mubarak, but the Moroccan government is hoping for the best.

AUTHOR: Ahmed T. B. / Cabalamuse
E-MAIL: cabalafuse [at]


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