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Morocco receives approval for F-16V procurement, upgrades

26 March 2019
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Morocco is to upgrade its 23 existing F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft to F-16V Block 70/72 standard, at the same time as procuring an additional 25 aircraft of the same standard. Source: Lockheed Martin

Morocco will become the latest customer for the Lockheed Martin F-16V Block 70/72 Fighting Falcon, with the US government announcing its approval for a procurement on 25 March.

The US State Department approval, disclosed by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), covers the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) purchase of 25 new-build F-16Vs, associated equipment, and support for an estimated USD3.79 billion, as well as upgrades to the north African country’s 23 existing F-16C/D Block 50/52s for an estimated USD985.2 million.

While the notification did not break-down the new-build procurement into aircraft variants, the retrofits to the Royal Moroccan Air Force’s (RMAF’s) current fleet will comprise 15 single-seat F-16Cs and eight twin-seat F-16Ds.

Further to the aircraft, the potential sale includes Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS), UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) DB-110 Tactical Reconnaissance Pods (TRPs), Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper pods, and Exelis AN/ALQ-211(V)9 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) podded electronic warfare (EW) systems. Weapons listed include Raytheon AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs), Boeing GBU-38/54 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits, and GBU-10/12/16/39/49/50 precision-guided bombs.

As noted by the DSCA, the proposed sale to Morocco will improve interoperability with the US and other regional allies, and will enhance the RMAF’s ability to undertake coalition operations, as it has done in the past in flying sorties against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

As the most advanced variant of the F-16 available today, the F-16V Block 70/72 features the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar (derived from the F-16E/F Block 60 AN/APG-80, also known as the Scalable Agile Beam Radar [SABR]), a new Raytheon mission computer, the Link 16 datalink, modern cockpit displays, an enhanced electronic warfare system, and a ground-collision avoidance system.

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