The purchase of helicopters equipped with anti-submarine warfare systems as well as sea patrol aircrafts aims at creating a military balance with Algeria, which is expected to receive two Russian Project 636E diesel-electric submarines (SSK) in 2018, Moroccan website specializing in military issues FAR-Maroc said.
The website said that the use of such anti-submarine aircraft by the Royal Navy will reinforce Morocco’s deterrence capacity vis-a-vis Algeria and will pave the way for the setting up of an air-sea base in Morocco.
Algerian Navy already operates four diesel electric submarines (SSK): Two older generation Project 877EKM Kilo and two new generation Project 636 Improved Kilo class. If it goes through, this new deal will make Algeria one of the strongest submarine forces in the region, alongside Egypt.
In a bid to bridge the gap with Algeria, Senior commander of Morocco’s Royal Navy had talks with Greek peers, last April, on the possibility of acquiring Submarines used by the Greek navy.
Since last year, negotiations have been ongoing between Morocco and Russia on the delivery of the Amur-class 1650 super-quite submarine, which will be the Kingdom’s first submarine.
Russia’s Amur-1650 diesel-electric powered submarine will significantly boost Morocco’s capabilities, as it will carry Club cruise missiles in addition to featuring air-independent propulsion (AIP). With a length of 66.8 meters and a beam of 7.1 meters, the submarine can sink into a depth of 250 meters.
The acquisition of submarines will also boost the capabilities of the Royal navy in its protective mission of the 2952km coastline stretching from the strait of Gibraltar to the Mauritanian coast on the Atlantic and from Tangier to the Algerian coast on the Mediterranean.
The main Atlantic bases of the Moroccan navy are found in Casablanca, Agadir and Dakhla, while the Mediterranean bases are located in Ksar Sghir and Al Hoceima.
Although it was established in 1960, the Moroccan navy traces its roots back to the 11th century. With the rise of the Al Moravid dynasty, and during the era of the Almohad dynasty, which stretched through the Maghreb, the Moroccan navy was the mightiest in the Mediterranean.