March 26, 2019 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The U.S. State Department has cleared Morocco for a major increase to its F-16 fleet, including both the purchase of 25 F-16C/D Block 72s and upgrades of its existing 23 F‑16s to the more advanced F‑16V block 52+ configuration.
RMAF F-16C block 52 #08-8009 is flying over head during the Marrakech airshow in 2016. [Photo by Peter R. Foster]
The two potential deals are estimated at respectively $3.787 billio and $985.2 million and could net American contractors roughly $4.8 billion.
Let's have a look at the shopping list from the Government of Morocco:
- 25 F-16C/D Block 72 aircraft;
- 29 Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines;
- 26 APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars;
- 26 Modular Mission Computers;
- 26 Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems – JTRS (MIDS-JTRS) with TACAN and ESHI Terminals;
- 26 LN260 Embedded Global Navigation Systems (EGI);
- 40 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS);
- 26 Improved Programmable Display Generators (iPDG);
- 30 M61 Al Vulcan 20mm Guns;
- 50 LAU-129 Multi-Purpose Launchers;
- 40 AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM);
- 40 AIM-120C-7 Guidance Sections;
- 3 GBU-38/54 JDAM Tail Kits;
- 50 MXU-650 Air Foil Group, GBU-49;
- 50 MAU-210 Enhanced Computer Control Group (CCG), GBU-49,-50;
- 36 FMU-139 D/B Fuzes;
- 6 FMU-139 D/B (D-l) Inert Fuzes;
- 2 GBU-39 (T-l) GTVs;
- 60 GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs (SDB I);
- 10 MAU-169L/B Computer Control Group, GBU-10,-12,-16;
- 10 MXU-650C/B Air Foil Group, GBU-12;
- 12 MK82 Bombs, Filled Inert;
- 4 BLU-109 Practice Bombs;
- 10 MAU-169 CCG (D-2);
- and 26 AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Pods.
Also included are
- 26 AN/ALQ-213 EW Management Systems;
- 26 Advanced Identification Friend/Foe;
- Secure Communications, Cryptographic Precision Navigation Equipment;
- 1 Joint Mission Planning System; twenty-six (26) AN/ALQ-211 AIDEWS;
- 6 DB-110 Advanced Reconnaissance Systems;
- communications equipment;
- spares and repair parts;
- support equipment;
- personnel training and training equipment;
- publications and technical documentation;
- support and test equipment, simulators;
- integration and test;
- U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistical support services;
- and other related elements of logistics and program support.
The estimated cost is $3.787 billion. As with all DSCA
announcements, the sale must pass through the Senate, at which point negotiations can begin; total quantities and dollar totals often change from the original DSCA announcement and final sale.
Per the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, this proposed sale will "contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major Non-NATO
ally that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in North Africa."
It will also "improve interoperability with the US and other regional allies and enhance Morocco
’s ability to undertake coalition operations, as it has done in the past in flying sorties against ISIS in Syria and Iraq
. Morocco already operates an F‑16 fleet and will have no difficulty absorbing this aircraft and services into its armed forces."
The prime contractor for both the sale and the upgrades is Lockheed Martin, and will require the assignment of U.S. government representatives and contractors to Morocco.
International interest in the F-16 Fighting Falcon remains high.
The F-16 Block 70/72 is the newest and most advanced F-16 configuration to date, with a structural life more than 50 percent beyond that of previous F-16 aircraft, according to Lockheed Martin.
The F-16 Viper variant includes an active electronically scanned array radar, a new mission computer and electronic warfare suite, automated ground collision avoidance system, and various cockpit improvements. It first flew in October 2015.
In April, Greece
announced it would upgrade 85 of its fleet of F-16 aircraft to the Viper configuration. Also in April, the U.S. State Department approved the sale to Slovakia of 14 F-16 Vipers.
In June, Lockheed was awarded a $1.1 billion contract to produce 16 F-16V fighters for Bahrain