Morocco cleared for $985 million TOW missile and F-16 bomb purchases

The U.S. Department of State has approved the sale to Morocco of 2,400 anti-tank guided missiles and more than 6,000 bombs for its F-16 aircraft at an estimated cost of $985 million, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

TOW missiles and launchers

The government of Morocco requested the sale of 2,401 TOW 2A missiles (BGM-71-4B-RF) along with 28 “Fly-to-Buy” missiles for lot acceptance testing, DSCA said in a Thursday, September 12 release.

The sale includes 400 M220A2 TOW Launchers and/or four hundred 400 M41 Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS) Launchers, along with other related equipment, training and support.

The principal contractor is Raytheon Missile Systems, and the estimated cost is $776 million.

“The proposed sale of the TOW 2A Missiles and TOW Launchers will advance Morocco’s efforts to develop an integrated ground defense capability,” DSCA said. “A strong national defense and dedicated military force will assist Morocco to sustain itself in its efforts to maintain stability.”

The BGM-71 TOW – Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided – missile, first designed in the 1960s and produced in the 1970s to attack armored vehicles, can be fired by soldiers from portable launchers, as well as from vehicles and aircraft. Once fired, the target must be kept in the shooter’s line of sight until the missile impacts.

More modern versions of the missiles – like those in the proposed sale – can use a one-way radio link rather than a wire to guide the missile, and they are identified with the “RF” suffix.

The TOW Improved Target Acquisition System, also called ITAS, is an upgraded fire control subsystem that increases target detection, acquisition, recognition and engagement ranges. It includes Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) and other enhancements to increase detection and identification ranges by a factor of 2.

Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) on F-22
US Air Force load-crew members transport an inert GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb to load into an F-22 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, July 19, 2013. Image: US Air Force/Senior Airman Kasey Close

F-16 bombs and guidance units

Morocco also requested requested the sale of 5,810 MK82-1 500 lb bombs and 300 MK84-4 2,000 lb bombs, both filled with tritonal explosive, DSCA said in a separate release.

The proposed sale also includes JDAM guided bomb tail kits, air foil groups and computer control groups for the Paveway II laser-guided bomb system, fuzes, flares, chaff and other equipment and support.

The principal contractors will be Raytheon, Orbital ATK, General Dynamics, Cheming Groupe, and Kaman Precision Products, and the estimated total cost is $209 million.

“The proposed sale will improve Morocco’s capability to meet current and future threats of terror from violent extremist organizations prevalent throughout the region,” DSCA said. “Additionally, the additional munitions provided by this sale 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 Joint Direct Attack Munition is a guidance kit that converts unguided “dumb” gravity bombs into accurate, guided “smart bombs.”

The bolt-on kit contains a GPS-aided inertial navigational system to improve the accuracy of general purpose bombs. Once released, the JDAM autonomously navigates to the designated coordinates.

The similar Paveway system uses laser-guidance.

Boeing awarded $6.5 billion contract for JDAM guided bomb tailkits

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