September 21, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Although it seemed for a while that Morocco would conclude on an order for Dassault Rafales, a French twin-engined multi-role fighter aircraft, it now seems more likely that they will order used F-16s.
BAF F-16A block 15 #FA-118 seen above a magnificent landscape over Morocco in the vicinity of Meknes were the Belgians practise low-level flying every year. [BAF photo]
The US seems to have offered 36 Lockheed Martin F-16s for less than 2 bln USD (~1.4 bln EUR) while France was proposing 18 Rafales for 2.3 bln EUR.
In an effort to counter the US offer, the French authorities amended their proposal to 12 Rafales and 12 Mirages or 24 Rafales for 2 bln EUR, but sources are not hopeful that France will get the order. Especially since the rate of the dollar is so low, the F-16 seems to be a real bargain compared to the Rafale.
Until recently, the French side was hopeful that the first Rafale export contract could be signed during a visit by President Nicolas Sarkozy to Morocco
scheduled for next month, the French newspaper La Tribune stated.
Though the Rafale has been rated highly in a number of evaluations, no foreign sales have been made yet.
In November 1991, Morocco and the U.S. Government signed an agreement for Morocco's acquisition of twenty ex-USAF F-16A/B's. Although Morocco was funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE
, the deal somehow never got through, else they would then have become the 18th country to fly the F-16.
Note that one of Morocco's neighbouring countries, Algeria, recently purchased Su-30s and Mig-29s.