MOROCCO AND ISRAEL are in secret negotiations over the latter country providing an upgrade of Moroccan air force Northrop F-5.

The negotiations are believed to cover the upgrade of around 20 F-5s, which the air force uses in the fighter/ground-attack role. If successfully concluded, the deal would be the first Israeli upgrade of military equipment for a Muslim state.

Morocco and Israel have recently established partial diplomatic relations. "Interest offices" in each country are used as the channel for growing economic relations.

The air force of Morocco operates some 20 F-5E/Fs, and the upgrade programme is aimed at enhancing their combat capability. Two Israeli companies, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Elbit, are offering to carry out the work.

IAI has upgraded the F-5s of the Chilean air force and Elbit is upgrading Singaporean F-5s.

Potential elements of either upgrade could include improved cockpit avionics, including head-up displays, multi-function displays and weapons-delivery and navigation systems. Weapons upgrades could include the Rafael Python 3 infra-red-guided short-range air-to-air missile, with a variety of air-to-surface weaponry also on offer.

Israel will supply ten Rafael Litening laser designation and navigation pods to Romania as part of its Mikoyan MiG-21MF Fishbed upgrade.

Source: Flight International