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US State Department approves sale of 25 F-16s to Morocco

The US State Department approved the possible sale of 25 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 72 fighters to the Royal Moroccan Air Force, as well as a possible agreement to upgrade 23 of the air force’s Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to the F-16V variant.

The F-16C/D fighters and related equipment are estimated to cost $3.79 billion, while the upgrade and related equipment is estimated to cost $985 million.

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Rendering of a Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 aircraft for the Royal Bahraini Air Force

Lockheed Martin

The State Department noted that Morocco already operates an F‑16 fleet and so it anticipates the North African country will have no difficulty absorbing the aircraft into its air force.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major Non-NATO ally that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in North Africa,” says the State Department. “The proposed sale will contribute to Morocco's self-defense capabilities. The purchase will improve interoperability with the United States 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 possible new aircraft order would come with a number of subsystems, spares and related equipment. Such hardware includes 29 Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines, 26 Northrop Grumman APG-83 active electronically scanned array radars; 26 modular mission computers; 26 Link-16 multifunctional information distribution systems; 26 Northrop Grumman LN260 embedded global navigation systems; and 40 joint helmet mounted cueing systems; among other equipment and subsystems.

Weapons and targeting equipment approved as part of the potential new fighter aircraft sale include 30 General Dynamics M61 Al Vulcan 20mm guns; 40 Raytheon AIM-120C-7 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles; 60 Boeing GBU-39/B small diameter bombs; and 12 General Dynamics MK82 bombs, as well as 26 Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pods.

The upgrade package will include a number of the same subsystems as the new aircraft bundle, such as the PG-83 active electronically scanned array radar. Though, it also includes 26 Terma AN/ALQ‑213 electronic warfare management systems; 26 advanced identification friend or foe systems; and 26 Harris AN/ALQ‑211 self-protection systems, among other devices.

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