$4.8 billion sale and upgrade of Morocco F-16 aircraft approved by US
The U.S. Department of State has approved a possible sale to Morocco of F-16C/D aircraft and upgrades of its existing fleet that could total almost $4.8 billion, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Monday, March 25.
Morocco has requested to purchase 25 F-16C/D Block 72 aircraft and other related equipment for an estimated cost of $3.787 billion, the DSCA said.
Related equipment includes 30 M61 Al Vulcan 20mm Guns (includes 5 spares), 40 AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), 60 GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs, 26 AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Pods, spares, practice equipment, management systems, navigation equipment, support and integration and U.S. government and contractor engineering and logistical support services.
“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,” DSCA said.
F-16 Viper upgrade ordered
Morocco already operates an F-16 fleet and also requested an upgrade for 23 of its F-16 aircraft to the F-16V configuration at an estimated cost of $985.2 million, DSCA said.
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, a combat-proven fourth generation fighter aircraft that first flew in 1974 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. It features an active radar with new avionics and software that takes advantage of new technologies.
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.