Morocco’s combat air force currently flies 2 squadrons of old F-5s, and 2 squadrons of only slightly newer Mirage F1s; T-37 light jets serve as key transitional trainers. Their neighbor and rival Algeria flies MiG-23s of similar vintage, but the Force Aerienne Algerienne also flies SU-24 Fencer and SU-25 Frogfoot strike aircraft, even more modern and capable MiG-29s, and is set to receive multi-role SU-30MKs as part of a multi-billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.
Morocco can’t beat that array. Instead, it is looking for replacement aircraft that will prevent complete overmatch, and provide it with a measure of security.
Initially, they looked to France. France’s Rafale is part of a set of European 4+ generation fighters that were developed and fielded during the 1990s-early 21st century, with the aim of surpassing existing offerings among America’s “teen series” fighters, as well as Russia’s Mig-29 Fulcrum and SU-27/30 Flanker family. “Dogfight at the Casbah: Rafale vs. F-16” discussed the French sales slip-ups that cost Dassault its first export order for the 4+ generation fighter. That outcome is now official. Just to make things worse, the final multi-billion dollar deal involves new-build F-16s, at a price comparable to the rumored figures for the Rafale. Not to mention an accompanying request to replace Morocco’s T-37 trainer fleet, and subsequent contracts for air-launched weapons and for C-27J short-haul transports.
The latest development includes a $30.3 million contract for Sniper advanced targeting pods.