Morocco Signs Up For Latest Apache Attack Helicopters

 - June 27, 2020, 6:28 AM
The AH-64E Apache Guardian on order for Morocco is the latest U.S. Army version of the attack helicopter. The most recent export recipient of the type was Qatar. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Kingdom of Morocco has signed a U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract for 24 Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. The sale, confirmed by Boeing on June 25, brings the number of countries to have ordered the Apache to 17, with deliveries nearing 2,500. Morocco is scheduled to receive its AH-64Es from 2024.

Approval for the purchase, which is being managed by the U.S. Army, was given by the U.S. State Department on November 20 last year. The initial request covered 24 helicopters, plus 12 options, for an estimated cost of $4.25 billion. The approved request includes the full range of AH-64E sensors and systems, including Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) 2 kits. The weapons package comprises AGM-114L and -114R Hellfire anti-tank missiles, APKWS laser-guided rocket kits, and AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles, along with unguided 2.75-inch rockets and 30-mm ammunition.

“This is another step forward in our long partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco,” said Jeff Shockey, vice president, Global Sales and Marketing at Boeing Defense, Space & Security. The company has been active in the kingdom for many years and is a partner in the MATIS Aerospace joint venture that supplies wiring bundles and harnesses for aviation applications. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the government to build an equipment supplier “ecosystem” in Morocco and supports a number of education initiatives.

Morocco is seen as a keen ally in the fight against Daesh and other extremist organizations in North Africa. The arrival of the Apaches will significantly boost its capabilities against external and internal threats and is part of a major modernization of its equipment. The Royal Moroccan Air Force has traditionally acquired much of its equipment from France, but following a brief flirtation with the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, has increasingly turned to the United States, acquiring F-16C/D Block 52+ aircraft in 2007 having ditched a plan to buy Dassault Rafales. Existing fighters, such as the Northrop F-5E/F and Dassault Mirage F1, have been extensively upgraded with French assistance.

In March 2019 the U.S. State Department approved a $3.8 billion request from Morocco to acquire 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighters with APG-83 active electronically scanned array radars, along with a $985 million request to upgrade the 23 existing F-16s to the equivalent F-16V standard. The request included advanced weaponry such as GBU-39 small diameter bombs, and AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pods. Additional DB-110 reconnaissance pods—which Morocco already employs on the F–16—were included. Another FMS request in April added the AGM-84L Harpoon Block 2 anti-ship missile to the procurement list.