Morocco has taken delivery of the first batteries of Chinese-made FD-2000B surface-to-air defense missile systems at a military base near the city Sidi Yahya El Gharb.
The acquisition is part of a known modernization drive to bring the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces up to standard. A 2030 Modernization plan, established in 2017 and launched in 2020, outlines the country’s stated goal of being interoperable with the United States and NATO, by modernizing the military equipment.
The FD-2000 is an export version of the Chinese-made HQ-9 advanced long-range air defense missile weapon system designed and manufactured by the Chinese Defense Company CPMIEC (China Precision Machinery Import & Export Corporation).
The FD-2000B is an improved version of the FD-2000 long-range air defense missile system which can intercept and destroy all types of current aerial threats at different altitudes such as conventional aircraft, stealth aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.
This air defense missile system is designed to be able to counter multiple targets from short to long-range and can be connected to an air defense network with other weapon systems.
Rabat has acquired quite a potent mix of air defence equipment, which includes American-made MIM-104 Patriot, Sky Dragon 50 medium-range surface-to-air missiles, and land-based vertical launched French MBDA VL MICA.
The MIM-104 Patriots were recently approved by the U.S. government under a wider strengthening of the country’s aerial defence structure.
In 2017, Morocco was linked to the acquisition of the Chinese-made Sky Dragon 50 medium-ranged air defense system. The Sky Dragon 50 has been delivered to the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces.
Likewise, in 2020, Morocco secured a $210.6 million export loan agreement with French PNB Paribas to buy weapons from MBDA France, including the VL MICA ground-based air defence (GBAD) system.
Typically, an HQ-9 (FD-2000) battery includes a command vehicle, six control vehicles, 6 targeting radar vehicles, 6 search-radar vehicles, 48 missile-launch vehicles, and 192 missiles; plus a positioning vehicle, a communications vehicle, a power supply vehicle, and a support vehicle. A battalion reportedly contains 8 missile launch vehicles.
It is not yet certain if these new air defence systems will be integrated with Morocco’s Thales Ground Masters 400 radar which was recently acquired under a contract signed in 2019 with the Royal Moroccan Air Force.
The FD-2000B launcher erector truck (TEL) has four missile containers. In firing position, the missiles containers are placed at the vertical to the rear side of the truck, two stabilizers are deployed at the rear and center of the chassis. The FD-2000B surface-to-air missile is armed with a 180 kg warhead. It can fly at a maximum speed of Mach 4.2. , and has a maximum range of 300 km up to an altitude of 30 km.
Currently, the armed forces of Morocco use Chinese military equipment including VT-1A main battle tanks, Type 56 7.62mm assault rifles, HJ-8L anti-tank missiles, PHL-03, and WS-2D MLRS Multiple Launch Rocket System, Sky Dragon 50 Medium-Range Surface-to-Air defense missile, and Type 90 35mm anti-aircraft gun.