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Morocco: drones and fighter jets among new military projects

In an unstable regional and global context, the North African country is taking the leap to launch its own local military industry
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PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Moroccan brigades

It is a fact that Morocco has entered fully into military industrialisation with the manufacture of drones and other military equipment, the modernisation of its F-16s and the receipt of the first batches of Apache helicopters. As part of the 2023 Finance Bill, the spending ceiling for Abdelatif Loudiyi's portfolio was set at just under 120 billion dirhams, or $11 billion. In the budget for the armed forces, the figure rises to $5.54 billion, up from $5.35 billion in 2022. Part of the Moroccan kingdom's plans is to create a robust industrial and military fabric at the national level. 

In addition, the head of government's deputy minister in charge of the Department of National Defence, Abdellatif Loudiyi, unveiled the 2023 budget during a meeting with the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee. Rabat's partners, the United States and Israel, were the first to announce their desire to approach the Moroccan experience. In this regard, Abdellatif Loudiyi declared that national production will be focused on the production of drones and the modernisation of its F16. 

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PHOTO/ARCHIVO - 

Without giving further details, Loudiyi specified that the project also involves the construction of a military aircraft maintenance plant, planned for the region of Benslimane, north of Casablanca. The minister also pointed out that the government has already adopted a law paving the way for the granting of licences for the development of military industries "to reinforce the independence" of the Kingdom in this field. He also revealed the number of soldiers deployed to protect the borders. Indeed, more than 50,000 soldiers guard Morocco's borders, of which 3,300 km are on land; 3,500 km of sea and airspace. 

The Deputy Minister affirmed that the mission of the Royal Army, as well as that of the Royal Gendarmerie, is to mobilise significant material and human resources for the control and surveillance of the borders, while specifying that the reinforcement of its operational capabilities to deal with threats is among the main concerns of the Royal Air Force (FAR), "the ground forces have fixed and support points, intervention units, an electronic surveillance system composed of fixed and mobile radars, as well as electronic audio-visual means and mini drones", he added. 

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AFP/FADEL SENNA - US AH-64 Apache attack helicopters fly overhead during the second annual "African Lion" military exercise in the Tan-Tan region

Entering the world of global arms production was a decisive turning point for the country's military industry, which initially aimed to reduce dependence on major powers and arms supplies. 

Moreover, the United States, France, Britain, China, Israel and even India, which seem interested in this new North African market, are willing to side with Morocco and accompany it in the first steps towards transforming the Moroccan kingdom into a country with the most powerful military industry that is the centre of the continent. Among the workshops Morocco will develop with its allies are the modernisation of F-16 aircraft and Apache helicopters, a Canadair firefighting aircraft and a drone factory. 

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AFP/FADEL SENNA - A Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet flies overhead during the "African Lion" military exercise.

The Kingdom is also working on repairing its infrastructure to receive US fighter jets. The workshops cover the design of facilities and supporting infrastructure, including flight simulation and safety equipment, which requires highly skilled international expertise.