By Tarik Elbarakah
Morocco World News
Agadir, August 31, 2012
Morocco will penetrate soon the very elite group of air forces of the world after receiving the final three of 24 F-16 fighter aircraft from the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, reports Defpro.com.
The three fighters have left Lockheed Martin’s facility in Texas, USA on their way to their new home in Morocco, subsequent to performing experimental flights and check out routines.
The Royal Moroccan Air Force took delivery of the first four F-16s from a total of twenty four aircrafts at a ceremony at Ben Guerir Air Base north of Marrakech on August 4, 2011 marking the presence of officials from US Air Force and their counterparts from Morocco.
Major General Margaret Woodward from the US Air Force said that “the remaining F-16 fighters would be delivered in the following months”.
In his turn, General Abdelali Houari, Deputy Inspector of the Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) said “We are modernizing our fleet and we’ve chosen the F-16, not only because it is a high-quality airplane, but also because of the close relationship we have with the United States”.
The operation enables Morocco to be the 25th nation to order the F-16. This operation also comes in the process of Morocco’s upgrading of its armed forces by buying large amounts of military equipment, including fighters, trainer aircraft and frigates.
RMAF also wants to make sure that the air arm remains credible and effective to keep up with the escalating race towards owning sophisticated arms such as Algeria’s purchase of 28 Su-30MKAs in 2007-2008.
The RMAF has around 60 warplanes and a substantial number of helicopters and it has recently made new purchases, such as four Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan transport aircraft and upgrading 27 of its Dassault Mirage F1s.
The current owned F-16s are based at Ben Guerrir Air Base, which is a former US base about 57 km north of Marrakech and once used as a transatlantic abort landing site for space shuttles.