Morocco has requested the purchase a range of military equipment and systems from the US, including High Mobile Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), other missile and rocket systems, vehicles, radio systems, support and communications equipment, engineering and logistics support services, and Joint Stand-Off Weapons (JSOW) for use on its F-16 fighter aircraft.
The total estimated cost of these purchases is $542.2m for the HIMARS-related equipment and $250m for the JSOW missiles, according to announcements from the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
These potential sales of military equipment to Morocco chime with an ongoing regional procurement contest with neighbouring Algeria, which is the largest military spender in the region with a defence budget of $16.7bn in 2023, according to GlobalData’s Algeria Defence Market, 2023-2028 report. Algeria’s commitment to its military capability is to deter Morocco.
These purchases could be a big win for Morocco if concluded, as they seek to leverage the balance of military procurement in favour of Morocco by using the consistent support of the US to get the upper hand in the North African region.
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Whilst Morocco receives reliable military support from the US, Algeria has suffered recent losses through its ties to Russian imports. This possible Moroccan procurement could be another sign that Algeria is falling behind in its arms race, as reported by Army Technology last month.
Russia is Algeria’s single largest defence supplier and maintains a close strategic partnership with the country. However, as Russia is engaged in a taxing war of attrition against Ukraine, Russian forces are pushed to their limits as they begin to feel the prospect of equipment depletion.
The proposed sale aims to improve Morocco’s security, which is considered a major non-Nato ally, and enhance its capability to detect and counter current and future threats, including terrorism and violent extremist organisations, in the Maghreb and Sahel region.
The purchase is also expected to enhance the Royal Armed Forces’ interoperability with US forces and increase the Royal Moroccan Air Force’s maritime partnership potential.
A variety of principal contractors, including Lockheed Martin, L3 Harris, and Raytheon, are expected to participate in the sale. Raytheon Missiles & Defense will be the principal contractor for the JSOW missiles.
GlobalData’s “Morocco Armed Forces Equipment Inventory 2023” report claims that Morocco currently spends 3.96% of its GDP on defence, an exceptionally high proportion of its national wealth. This figure allows Morocco to invest in the requisite technology needed to uphold its sovereignty against the threats perceived by the state. This percentage is forecast to grow to 4% in 2028.