Moroccan army will be capable of deep strikes with 18 M142 HIMARS
RABAT, MOROCCO — F-16V “Viper” fighter jets, AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, MALE [Medium Altitude Long Endurance] MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones, etc. Morocco is a good customer of the US arms industry. And it’s not over, as Morocco apparently intends to acquire the M142 HIMARS system from Lockheed-Martin to provide the Royal Moroccan Army with a deep strike capability.
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On April 11, the Defense and Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA], responsible for the export of US military equipment under the so-called FMS [Foreign Military Sales] procedure, issued a favorable opinion on the sale to Morocco of 18 M142 HIMARS [artillery rocket high mobility system] at an estimated cost of $524.2 million.
This amount also includes the supply of ammunition, including forty M57 ATACMS [Army Tactical Missile System] tactical ballistic missiles with ranges between 70 and 300 km.
Current and future threats to Morocco
This potential sale “would support the foreign policy and national security of the United States [which, among other things, recognizes Rabat’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, editor’s note] by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally, which continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in North Africa,” argued the DSCA opinion.
And to add: “It will improve Morocco’s ability to deal with current and future threats” and “to control its borders”, thereby contributing “to the maintenance of regional stability and security”. It will also “strengthen the interoperability of the Royal Armed Forces [FAR], which regularly conducts exercises with US forces focusing on the fight against terrorism and violent extremist organizations in the Maghreb and Sahel region.”
In addition, DSCA took part in this argument to justify a second opinion on Morocco, the latter expressing its intention to obtain forty AGM-154 JSOW [Joint Standoff Weapon] air-to-surface missiles for its F-16. The estimated value of this possible contract is $250 million.
According to the US agency, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces intend to use these missiles, whose maximum range is 130 km, to protect “critical sea lanes”.
The Strait of Gibraltar
In a report to the French Parliament published in February 2022, General Philippe Morales, then-Commander of Air Defense and Air Operations [CDAOA], explained that Algeria had the necessary capabilities to “present a real bubble of denial of access in Gibraltar strait and as far as the south of Spain, in the logic of a sanctuary of the western Mediterranean’.
And all this to block the Moroccan fleet in the event of a conflict. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that Morocco has a seafront that essentially faces the Atlantic Ocean.
We recall that Morocco and Algeria severed diplomatic relations in August 2021, in particular over their dispute over Western Sahara. In March, Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune said relations between Algeria and Rabat had reached a “point of no return”. And the tension between the two sides is reaching a crescendo.
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