WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department has cleared Morocco for a major increase to its F-16 fleet, including both sales of new planes and upgrades to older models.
The two potential deals cover the purchase of 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighters, estimated at $3.787 billion, as well as upgrades to the country’s existing 23 F‑16s to the more advanced F‑16V Block 52+ configuration, estimated at $985.2 million. Combined, the two sales could net American contractors roughly $4.8 billion.
The new F-16 request represents the single largest notification of fiscal 2019. It is also the second largest purchase requested by Morocco, which in November requested new Abrams tanks.
In addition to the 25 new jets, the larger package includes 29 Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines; 26 APG-83 active electronically scanned array radars; 26 modular mission computers; 26 Link 16 systems; 40 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems; 30 M61 Al Vulcan 20mm guns; 40 AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles; 50 GBU-49 bombs; 60 GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs; and assorted other equipment.
The upgrade package includes much of the same equipment, with similar quantities of AESA radars, Link 16 systems and weapons. The configuration improves the radars and avionics on the older jets.
Per the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the potential sales “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. Morocco already operates an F‑16 fleet and will have no difficulty absorbing this aircraft and services into its armed forces.”
Work will be performed primarily by Lockheed Martin, and any industrial offsets “will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor.”
As with all DSCA announcements, the sale must pass through the Senate, at which point negotiations can begin; total quantities and dollar totals often change from the original DSCA announcement and final sale.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.