New agreements, acquisitions, modernization of fighter planes and new military technologies… The Kingdom seems on the right track to strengthen its arsenal and transform itself into a regional power.
Indeed, within the framework of the 2023 finance bill, 119.8 billion dirhams (11 billion dollars) have been allocated to the defense budget, which represents an increase of nearly 4 billion dirhams (369 million) from the prior year. Most certainly this includes national production which will focus on the production of drones, the modernization of its F16s, as declared the Minister Delegate to the Head of Government, in charge of the National Defense Administration, Abdellatif Loudiyi.
Let us recall the signing of the industrial compensation agreement with the American company Boeing, which took place a few days ago, in the presence of Abdeltif Loudyi, Minister Delegate to the Head of Government, in charge of the National Defense Administration, in the presence of the General of the Army Corps, Inspector General of the FAR and Commander of the Southern Zone, of the General of the Army Corps, Commander of the Royal Gendarmerie, and other senior officials of the EMG of the FAR as well as representatives of the Embassy of the United States of America in Rabat.
This agreement, in addition to strengthening the autonomy of the Royal Air Forces in terms of meteorology, manufacturing and repair, is part of the extension of the acquisition program for 24 Apache helicopters which was formalized three years ago, and further illustrates the Royal Vision aimed at modernizing and strengthening the operational capacities of the FAR as well as the emergence of a defense industry sector in Morocco.
The American airline had previously specified that the North African country is the 17th country to acquire the Boeing AH-64 Apache via a contract for 24 of the helicopters. If no constraints arise, the first aircraft will be received by Rabat in 2024, and the manufacturing work on the last aircraft will be completed in March 2025.
The Defense and Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced in November 2020 the authorization for the sale in Morocco of these helicopters, plus 12 optional aircraft, according to the formula of foreign military sales (FMS). The price estimated by the United States for the acquisition of the entire lot, including the 12 aircraft under options, making a total of 36, plus weapons, spare parts and other related items and services, is 4 .25 billion dollars.
With this acquisition, Morocco has become the second African country to operate the Apache, after Egypt, which acquired its own fleet in 1995. In total, Boeing has delivered nearly 2,500 Apache helicopters to 16 countries, including USA, the Netherlands, Greece, the United Kingdom, Japan, India, Singapore, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
It should be noted that the AH-64 Apache is an attack aircraft introduced in the 1980s and whose combat range is close to 500 kilometers, while with its cruising speed it can reach 1,900 kilometers. The helicopter has a maximum take-off weight of 9.5 tons and can carry and fire, among other things, AGM-114 anti-tank missiles, Hydra 70 rockets and 30 mm projectiles from its M230 automatic cannon.