Morocco is set to receive an unspecified number of Merkava tanks from Israel as part of the African nation’s efforts to bolster its military firepower, European news outlets have reported.
The revelation comes after Israeli defense official Yair Koles announced last month that Jerusalem was in talks with two countries for the potential sale of the armored vehicles.
According to the reports, the Merkavas to be delivered to Rabat have already been decommissioned by the Israeli military.
The deal, which is expected to close in the next few months, will make Morocco the first foreign buyer of Merkava tanks.
It would also strengthen diplomatic and military ties between the two countries.
The Merkava Tank
The Merkava tank is equipped with a powerful 120-millimeter smooth-bore gun capable of dispatching most Soviet-era tanks at any combat range.
It offers increased protection to soldiers thanks to its advanced electromagnetic threat identification and warning system.
The tank’s latest version, the Merkava 4, is powered by a 1,500hp diesel engine, representing a 25-percent increase in power over its predecessor.
The Israeli military decommissioned obsolete versions of the armored vehicles when it absorbed a new model of the tank.
Keeping Pace With Adversaries
Morocco’s increasing investments in defense are seen as an attempt to keep pace with powerful regional rival Algeria.
Rabat has reportedly been under threat from Algeria for many years, especially after Algiers broke off diplomatic relations with Morocco in August 2011.
Earlier this year, the Moroccan government was cleared for the possible sale of US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) for $524.2 million.
It also acquired the Chinese-made Red Arrow 9A anti-tank missile system designed to engage armored vehicles and fortified structures.