Morocco gets 4 MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones

The announcement comes just after Morocco and Israel normalized relations
Atalayar_Un avión teledirigido MQ-9 Reaper

AFP/ETHAN MILLER  -   An MQ-9 Reaper drone flying at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada

At the beginning of October, following the visit of the US defence secretary Mark Esper to Morocco, both countries signed a military and security cooperation agreement for the 2020-2030s. The agreement did not go into detail, but laid the foundations for news such as that of yesterday. According to military sources, which have confirmed to Reuters, the new purchase would amount to one billion dollars. The arms build-up between Algeria and Morocco continues to benefit US coffers.

The bulk of the acquisition would be four MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones from the US company General Atomics. It would also include various guided munitions and Hellfire missiles, which can be equipped on these same drones, all produced by US companies such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing. These drones would have a range of over 11,000 kilometres, so they can cover large areas of sea or desert, something in which Morocco is particularly interested.

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PHOTO/AFP - US Defence Secretary Mark Esper (L) meets Nasser Bourita (R), Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in the capital Rabat on 2 October 2020

The purchase is awaiting approval by the US Congress, according to the Missile Technology Control Regime, the MTCR, something that the Trump Administration has been trying to reinterpret to attract the purchase of other countries which, not being direct allies or partners of NATO, could have been left out of this type of acquisition. 

The clearest example of how the United States is diversifying its drone buyers is the recent purchase of drones by the United Arab Emirates, which also used Israel's recognition to gain access to this technology. Another example would have been Taiwan. 

Atalayar_Un avión MQ-9 Reaper
AFP/ISAAC BREKKEN - A remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper aircraft flies by during a training mission

This naval model of the UAV MQ-9 Reaper specialises in scenarios such as anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare, in addition to the classic ones linked to obtaining intelligence to combat piracy, drug trafficking and illegal immigration, and the information required for other types of operations.

Morocco already had the predecessor model of this MQ-9 Reaper, though this latest agreement has enabled it to gain access to the most powerful model. Spain is another of the countries that has the MQ-9 in its air forces. The progress the European Union countries are making in this type of armaments has also become known in recent weeks. The so-called Euromale will begin to arrive around 2028, and Spain will initially have 12 of these unmanned aircraft.