The US State Department has cleared the possible sale of 25 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 72 fighters to the Royal Moroccan Air Force, as well as a possible agreement to upgrade 23 of the air force’s Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to the F-16V variant. The two potential deals cover the purchase of 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighters, estimated at $3.787 billion, as well as upgrades to the country’s existing 23 F‑16s to the more advanced F‑16V Block 52+ configuration, estimated at $985.2 million. Combined, the two sales could net American contractors roughly $4.8 billion. The proposed sale will contribute to Morocco’s self-defense capabilities. The purchase will improve interoperability with the United States 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.
The possible new aircraft order would come with a number of subsystems, spares and related equipment. Such hardware includes 29 Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines, 26 Northrop Grumman APG-83 active electronically scanned array radars; 26 modular mission computers; 26 Link-16 multifunctional information distribution systems; 26 Northrop Grumman LN260 embedded global navigation systems; and 40 joint helmet mounted cueing systems; among other equipment and subsystems. The upgrade package includes much of the same equipment, with similar quantities of AESA radars, Link 16 systems and weapons. The configuration improves the radars and avionics on the older jets.
Weapons and targeting equipment approved as part of the potential new fighter aircraft sale include 30 General Dynamics M61 Al Vulcan 20mm guns; 40 Raytheon AIM-120C-7 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles; 60 Boeing GBU-39/B small diameter bombs; and 12 General Dynamics MK82 bombs, as well as 26 Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pods. The upgrade package will include a number of the same subsystems as the new aircraft bundle, such as the PG-83 active electronically scanned array radar. Though, it also includes 26 Terma AN/ALQ‑213 electronic warfare management systems; 26 advanced identification friend or foe systems; and 26 Harris AN/ALQ‑211 self-protection systems, among other devices.
Morocco already operates an F‑16 fleet and so it anticipates the North African country will have no difficulty absorbing the aircraft into its air force. The new F-16 request represents the single largest notification of fiscal 2019. It is also the second largest purchase requested by Morocco, which in November requested new Abrams tanks. Work will be performed primarily by Lockheed Martin, and any industrial offsets “will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor.” 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.