Morocco has advanced its planned purchase of 24 Hawker Beechcraft T-6 trainers, with the US company having received a $37 million contract to begin work on the aircraft.

Placed by the US Air Force on 21 September, the award is the initial part of a Foreign Military Sales deal first outlined by the US Defense Security Co-operation Agency in December 2007.

The Moroccan T-6C programme has an expected overall value of $185 million, says Hawker Beechcraft. "The T-6C is the US government-approved nomenclature for the version of the T-6B being offered to foreign customers," it adds.

The turboprop-powered aircraft will be equipped with CMC Electronics-supplied glass cockpits, and will replace Morocco's air force inventory of 14 Cessna T-37 jet trainers, which were produced almost 50 years ago. Hawker Beechcraft declines to comment on the expected delivery schedule for the new aircraft.

The US Department of Defense says the T-6C contract also covers the provision of spare parts and support services, plus ground support equipment and operational flight trainers to be delivered to Morocco.

The North African nation is also in the process of buying 24 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters from the USA. The DSCA on 9 September notified US Congress of a $187 million request to acquire weapons for the type. These include 60 Raytheon GBU-12 Enhanced Paveway II precision-guided bombs and 20 Raytheon AGM-65D Maverick air-to-surface missiles, plus six Lockheed AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pods, it says.

Lockheed on 24 September announced the receipt of a $30 million contract for the provision and support of the Sniper systems.

Source: Flight International