Morocco’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken delivery of three Heron long endurance UAVs made by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IA) which were decommissioned from service with the French Military.
French firm Dassault is said to be mediated the deal between Morocco and IAI as the North African Muslim-majority state does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
The three drones arrived in Morcco on January 26 for a deal reported to be worth $48 million, French publication Intelligence Online reported. There was no confirmation of the deal by the Moroccan authorities.
Sources told Defenseworld.net that a package of 3 Herons plus ground stations, spares and support would be worth in excess of 150 million if bought new. It is not known how old the Drones are and how much service life they have left.
The report said Morocco bought the drones after they were decommissioned from the French military, which used them for surveillance operations in Afghanistan. The drones are capable of 52 hours of flight, and can be outfitted with secure communication links and a variety of sensors that can see in day or night.
The website said Morocco planned to deploy the UAVs to fight jihadist groups and rebels in Western Sahara.
Morocco has close defence relations with France having ordered Fremm frigates in the recent past. It is one of the major clients of the US having made significant purchases of F-16 jets, missiles, Apache helicopters and many others from Washington.