The US Department of State approved a possible sale to Morocco of F-16C/D aircraft. The cost of the deal is estimated at $3.8 billion. Morocco has requested to purchase 25 F-16C/D Block 72 aircraft and other related equipment. According to a press statement
, the proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major Non-NATO ally that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in North Africa. Morocco
already operates an F-16 fleet and also requested
an upgrade of the 23 aircraft to the F-16V configuration. The prime contractor for the sale and the upgrade is Lockheed Martin. According to the company, the F-16 Block 70/72 is the newest and most advanced F-16 configuration to date, with a structural life more than 50 percent beyond that of previous F-16 aircraft.
Morocco’s combat air force currently flies 2 squadrons of old F-5 fighters, and 2 squadrons of only slightly newer Mirage F1s. T-37 light jets serve as high-end trainers. Their neighbor and rival Algeria flies MiG-23s of similar vintage, but the Force Aérienne Algérienne also flies SU-24 Fencer and SU-25 Frogfoot strike aircraft, plus even more modern and capable MiG-29s, and is receiving multi-role SU-30MKAs as part of a multi-billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.
Morocco can’t beat that array. Instead, they’re looking for replacement aircraft and upgrades that will prevent complete overmatch, and provide a measure of security. Initially, they looked to France, but key reversals have handed most of this modernization work to the United States.