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Boeing begins Apache build for Morocco

A file image of the Apache production line in Mesa, Arizona. Boeing has commenced its build of the first of 24 helicopters for Morocco. (Boeing)

Boeing has commenced production of 24 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters for Morocco, the manufacturer announced on 13 November.

Work was launched at the Mesa facility in Arizona some three-and-a-half years after the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract was signed for an undisclosed value in June 2020. Deliveries are to begin in 2024.

According to the US State Department approval for the procurement, Morocco's new Apaches will be armed with Lockheed Martin AGM-114L/R Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket kits and more than 5,000 70 mm rockets, and Raytheon AIM-92H Stinger air-to-air missiles. Defensive countermeasures were also included, as was Manned-Unmanned Teaming-2 (MUMT-2) equipment for the on-board control of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF), which operates all of the military's aviation assets, does not currently field a dedicated attack helicopter. The 24 AĆ©rospatiale SA342L Gazelle helicopters it currently operates in the light attack role were procured from 1978 and is in need of replacing.

Morocco is acquiring the Apaches as part of a wider equipment procurement programme. The North African country is revamping its combat aviation capabilities, also procuring the latest variant Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 Fighting Falcon to replace the Mirage F1s it received in 1978, the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs it received in 1980, and to augment and eventually replace the F-16C/Ds it received from 2011.

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