The U.S. government has approved the sale of 25 new F-16 Block 72s to Morocco, as well as an upgrade package to bring that country’s existing Viper fleet up to the very similar F-16V standard. If the North African nation were to pursue both deals, it would effectively double the size of the Royal Morocco Air Force’s F-16 fleet and significantly increase its combat capabilities.
The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $3.787 billion sale to Morocco of 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighter aircraft, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Monday.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a 25 March statement that Government of Morocco requested to buy 25 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds Block 72 fighter aircraft equipped with the Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines and the APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.
Morocco also requested AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Pods, AN/ALQ-211/-213 EW Management Systems, DB-110 Advanced Reconnaissance Systems, AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles, spares parts and other support equipment.
“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,” the DSCA said in a statement.
Morocco already operates an F‑16 fleet and will have no difficulty absorbing this aircraft and services into its armed forces.
Also to buy new aircraft, Morocco requested upgrade its existing 23 F‑16 aircraft to the F‑16V configuration and related equipment for an estimated cost of $985.2 million.
The upgraded aircraft will be brought up to the same standard as the newly purchased aircraft, and this FMS contract will also bring additional systems and weapons, like mentioned in this news report.
If Morocco does decide to buy the new-build aircraft, it would be the second country to purchase examples of Lockheed Martin’s most advanced F-16s to date and the first to purchase the Block 72 configuration specifically. In June 2018, Bahrain became the first customer for new F-16 Block 70 aircraft. Just last week, reports emerged that the U.S. government might also approve sales of the Block 70 to Taiwan.
Lockheed Martin originally developed the Block 70 for India, but recently rebranded that country-specific configuration as the F-21. The F-16V is an upgrade package for older Vipers that brings them up to a near identical standard to Block 70/72 aircraft. Taiwan and Greece are both upgrading their existing F-16 fleets to the V configuration, as well.