Spanish news Larazon reports that the Royal Moroccan Army will soon be taking delivery of the ground-based air defense missile system MBDA VL MICA. The new system will complement the Chinese-made air defense system Sky Dragon 50. Sky Dragon 50 is an export variant of long-range semi-active radar homing (SARH) surface-to-air missile (SAM) Sky Dragon 50 with a range of 50 km. The news about the potential arrival of VL-Mica missiles to Morocco comes a year after media reported that the North African country concluded a contract concerning military equipment with France. France is one of Morocco’s key partners in the military and security fields.
The Moroccan government has signed an export loan agreement with France’s BNP Paribas for the acquisition of a new ground-based air defense (GBAD) system. The loan agreement was given formal approval on 11 May through Decree 346.20.2. The loan, valued at EUR192.1 million (USD210.6 million) will be used to support a commercial contract between MBDA’s French subsidiary, and the Moroccan Department of National Defence. Morocco has been increasing its acquisitions of military equipment in recent years to modernize its various army corps (land, air, sea). In 2019, the Kingdom spent around $ 3.76 billion on arms purchases.
The MBDA MICA (Missile interception, de combat et d’autodéfense, “interception, combat and self-defense missile”) is an anti-air multi-target, all-weather, fire-and-forget short and medium-range missile system. It is intended for use both by air platforms as individual missiles as well as ground units and ships. It is fitted with a thrust vector control (TVC) system. While the VL MICA has an advertised range of 20 km, aerodynamic performance is significantly degraded at those ranges. From 0 to 7 km MICA has the maneuverability of 50g, however, by 12 km, this is reduced to 30g as energy is lost.
MICA can also be employed as a short-range surface-to-air missile. It is available in a ground-based version, VL MICA, fired from a truck-mounted box launcher, and a naval version, VL MICA-M, fired from a ship-fitted vertical launch system. The VL MICA system in its land-based configuration consists of a series of truck-mounted elements, including a tactical operations center, Sagem SIGMA 30 radar, and launcher vehicles that can carry between three and six multi-round launchers with the missiles in clusters of four rounds. The target drone was flying at a low level, over the sea, 12 km away; despite this distance, MICA, equipped with an active radar seeker, locked on the target and shot it down.