Morocco Boosting its Air Defense System
June 24/11: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Morocco’s official request to buy 8 AN/MPQ-64F1 Improved Sentinel radars, 8 M1152 HMMWV Sentinel transports, 8 accompanying AN/VRC-92E SINCGARS Vehicular Dual Long-Range System Radios, plus Sentinel Software, HMMWV support equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and U.S. Government and contractor support.
The DSCA says that “The Government of Morocco is modernizing its armed forces and expanding its air defense architecture.” They could certainly use that…
Morocco’s air defenses, which are operated by its Army, have very few modern components, and are very much in need of medium range options. A handful of Russian self-propelled Tunguska M1/SA-19 gun-missile systems provide their most advanced option, but are limited to short range coverage. Their American Chapparal counterparts, which use an AIM-9 Sidewinder variant, offer the same limitations, with a less advanced missile. Most of their air defenses are actually guns, from 20mm Vulcan fixed and mobile gatling gun systems to the self-propelled, 4-barreled 23mm Russian ZSU-23.
The Sentinel radars can be used on their own, but they’re also a key component of medium range SL-AMRAAM/NASAMS air defense systems, which use the same AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles ordered by the Royal Moroccan Air Force. These systems are being fielded by customers like Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain, and may soon show up in Chile. The addition of medium-range surface-to-air missile systems would significantly improve Morocco’s air defense network. So would tying some or all of their existing systems into better radars and command systems. The 2 moves have obvious synergies if Morocco decides to do both, but even on their own, mobile Sentinel radars can be helpful as a step toward a more comprehensive network.
The estimated cost is $67 million, and prime contractors would be Thales Raytheon Systems in Fullerton, CA (Sentinel), ITT in Fort Wayne, IN (SINCGARS), and AM General in South Bend, IN (HMMWVs). Implementation of this proposed sale will require up to 10 U.S. Government or contractor representatives in Morocco for a period of 8 weeks, for equipment checkout and training.