19/12/2019 – Morocco’s plan to modernize its military equipment, particularly in the Air Force, has made it the US’ first customer in the sector.
Morocco has outranked Saudi Arabia, previously the primary recipient of the US weapons, with deals worth $10.3 billion.
According to data compiled by the Forum on the Arms Trade from the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, the US arms sales to countries of the MENA region doubled to reach $25.5 billion in 2019.
Globally, the US arms sales flourished by 42% in 2019, reaching $69.7 billion, with the MENA region accounting for 36.58% of the sales.
Morocco’s arms deal with the US this year involved the sale of $3.8 billion worth of 25 F-16 aircraft and associated equipment in March, in addition to upgrading Morocco’s existing fleet of F-16 fighter jets for a cost of $985 million.
The most recent deal was on November 20, when the US State Department’s approval of the sale of 36 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment to Morocco for an estimated cost of $4.25 billion.
The acquisition is part of Morocco’s five-year plan, established in 2017, to reach “regional supremacy” by modernizing the military equipment of its army, airforce, and navy.
Morocco is currently the second biggest arms exporter and the 7th military power in Africa, according to Global Firepower’s 2019 military strength ranking. Algeria is the fifth largest exporter of arms in the world spending nearly three times Morocco’s annual defense budget for the military every year, according to the 2018 Trends in World Military Expenditure report.
So far, Morocco has devoted $20 billion to its strategic objective. Morocco’s primary arms suppliers include the US with a 53% share, followed by France with 44%, and Italy with 1.4%.
Morocco World News / Hamza Guessous
Sahel-Elite | Image: Moroccan F-16 Jet