The Royal Moroccan Navy (RMN) plans to acquire at least two new anti-submarine and maritime patrol turboprop aircraft to enhance its maritime capabilities.
The new aircraft will help protect Morocco’s interests in the 81,000-square-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Given Morocco’s 2,952 km coastline, and strategic position overseeing the Strait of Gibraltar, along with Spain and the United Kingdom.
Morocco intends to keep it’s arch-rival Algeria’s six Kilo-class submarine in check, since it does not possess any submarine of it’s own.
Two airframes, Italian Leonardo ATR 72 MPA, and Airbus C-295 MPA are currently being considered by Morocco. Evaluation for both maritime patrol aircraft will be carried out in the next few months.
Besides the two European candidates currently being considered, Boeing is pitching its P-8 Poseidon, while Lockheed Martin is offering its SC-130J Sea Hercules to fill this role. Both American aircraft are believed to have been eliminated from the contest due to cost grounds.
Morocco already operates 14 Britten-Norman Defender acquired from the United Kingdom, and four Beech King Air 350ER aircraft for maritime patrol duties.
The North African country is waiting for the delivery of a General Dynamics Gulfstream G550 transport and reconnaissance aircraft from the United States to augment its forces, this could be later retrofitted for the MPA role similar to the Israeli version and equipped with technologies developed and manufactured by IAI’s radar and electronic warfare subsidiary Elta Systems.
Whichever MPA platform Morocco chooses, it will be integrated with the newer MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones acquired for $1 billion from the United States administration led by former President Donald Trump.