Morocco is further bolstering its air arsenal with the acquisition of new state-of-the-art equipment, including Israeli-made high-tech weapons. The objective being to guarantee the stability and security of the region, including the Sahara.
Morocco’s acquisitions are mainly reflected in its vision to use its military capabilities for defense and deterrence purposes to maintain military stability in the region. The Kingdom had acquired several Israeli Heron drones as part of a French-mediated deal, six years before the official rapprochement between the two countries. After the Abraham Accords, military transactions intensified.
In November 2021, former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz traveled to Rabat to sign the first Defense Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries. Days later, the Haaretz newspaper reported a $22 million sale of Harop suicide drones to Morocco. In September 2022, Morocco purchased 150 additional Israeli drones.
According to what the American newspaper The Intercept reports, it seems that leaders of the separatist militia claimed that the Israeli drones, Heron, would have been used by the Moroccan forces for surveillance missions, but in particular direct attacks targeting civilians. . It should be noted that none of these claims have been independently confirmed.
According to Federico Borsari, a researcher specializing in unmanned technologies at the Center for European Policy Analysis quoted by the same source, Morocco owns or has purchased 150 vertical take-off and landing drones, including WanderB and ThunderB produced by BlueBird Aero Systems. , three Heron TPs and Harop ammunition produced by Israel Aerospace Industries, as well as four Hermes 900 produced by Elbit Systems. Morocco also has Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones and Chinese Wing Loong drones, both used for combat purposes, he continued.
He explains that part of Morocco’s Israeli drone arsenal could indeed be used as attack drones: the Heron TP and the Hermes 900 can be used for both surveillance and attacks, while the Harop is intended for keystrokes only. “Harops are what we call “standby munitions”. They are expensive and they can only strike once, as they are destroyed on impactsaid Borsari, adding that these munitions would most likely be used against high-value targets.
In addition, The Intercept recalled that since 2020 the two countries have implemented a long series of economic and military agreements beyond the sale of drones. For the first time, Israeli troops from the elite Golani unit took part in the African Lion.
In 2021 and 2022, respectively, Gantz and Aviv Kochavi, then head of the Israel Defense Forces, visited Morocco and signed several military deals, including a $500 million contract to deliver the Barak MX missile defense system to Rabat. . Earlier this year, one of the Pentagon’s alleged Discord leaks revealed that the system was scheduled to arrive in Morocco in mid-2023. It was notably reported that Morocco is also in advanced negotiations to receive Israeli Merkava tanks.
Meanwhile, economic cooperation is booming. From 2019 to 2022, Israel’s exports to Morocco increased tenfold, from $3.8 million to $38.5 million. In 2021 and 2022, two Israeli companies, Ratio Petroleum and NewMed Energy, won rights from Morocco to research and potentially exploit two separate offshore blocks in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of the Sahara. This continuous dynamic thus consolidates the military, security and economic position of the country.