Morocco set to become regional air defense industry hub
Three aerospace companies, Sabca Maroc, Belgium’s Sabena- an offshore of Blueberry Group- and the US Lockhead Martin will open the first maintenance plant dedicated to Moroccan military aircrafts, which is also poised to serve as a maintenance hub for friendly countries in the region operating airplanes such as C130.
Morocco is building on its position as a destination for civilian aerospace industries, supplying critical engine parts, wire harness and wing technology to giants such as Boeing and Airbus.
The new plant will also be tasked with upgrading helicopters and other military aircrafts used by the Royal Armed Forces, and represents the first private investment in Morocco’s defense industry.
The new factory will be built in the airport of Benslimane over 15,000 m2 offering 300 direct jobs.
Blueberry has an experience of 30 years in the maintenance of aircrafts such as C130 and F16, used by Moroccan air force.
The new plant has technology transfer potential which will be beneficial for bolstering Moroccan capacity notably in terms of cutting-edge defense technologies and qualified human resources.
It is also essential for Morocco’s sovereignty to have air defense maintenance on its soil, rather than being dependent on maintenance from abroad.
According to Medias24, the new plant will also position Morocco as a hub for the maintenance of C130 of friendly countries in the region such as Tunisia and other African countries.
Morocco has also invested in renewing its arsenal with modern equipment with media reports evoking Moroccan plans to acquire 22 T129 ATAK helicopters worth $1.3 billion.
The deal would add to an order of 36 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $4.25 billion.
The acquisition will bolster the attack capabilities of Morocco’s Royal Air Force which currently operates 24 Aerospatiale SA342L Gazelle helicopters procured from 1978 that need replacing.
Aware of the importance of air superiority to counter any national security threat that may result from the growing instability in the Sahel and Algeria, Morocco has also ordered an additional batch of 25 units of F-16C/D Block 72 fighter jet that will bring the total number of the Moroccan F-16 fleet to 48 units.
Morocco’s evolving military strategy is also attaching particular importance to drone warfare which has proved very efficient in thwarting attacks by the Algeria-backed separatists in recent months.
Soon after the proclamation by President Trump of the US recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara and the resumption of diplomatic relations with Israel, Reuters reported that the US moved forward with the sale of four MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones and precision-guided weapons worth $1 billion to Morocco.
Israeli media also reported that Morocco seeks Barak MX air and missile defense system in a deal worth more than $500 million.
Morocco has already indirectly purchased Heron UAVs from IAI and other UAVs from IAI unit Bluebird as well as robot patrol vehicle systems from Elbit Systems and drone interceptors from Skylock.