“Satellite images show that Morocco already has at least 127 of the almost two hundred Abrams M1A1 tanks that the United States has authorized to sell to the North African country,” the Spanish outlet Infodefensa reported on August 9.
The satellites photographed tanks in the Central Establishment and Management of Material Storage (ECGCM) in Nouaceur, a town 20 kilometers south of Casablanca. One picture showed up to 65 of the tanks all together, the Spanish outlet added.
Commenting on the tanks’ arrival, Mohammed Chakir, a Moroccan expert on military affairs, told Alyaoum24, “This is a reflection of the Spanish concern as an arming race exists between Rabat, Madrid and Algeria.”
“The many disagreements between Spain and Morocco, mainly the dispute over the occupied cities of Ceuta and Melilla, make decision makers in Spain closely follow any military deal concluded by Morocco, especially with the US, which is known for its most sophisticated industry weapons,” he added.
In April 2018, a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) tweeted that “a pre-delivery of 48 Abrams tanks” from the US to Morocco was dispatched from Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio and was videoed cruising through La Grange, Kentucky.
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) April 7, 2018
According to the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the negotiations between Morocco and the US for the purchase of 200 enhanced and refurbished M1A1 Abrams tanks started in June 2012. The enhancement also included associated parts, equipment, logistical support, and training for over $1 billion.
The two countries finalized the deal in September 2015.
“This package of M1A1 tank enhancements will contribute to the modernization of Morocco’s tank fleet, enhancing its ability to meet current and future threats,” said DSCA.
In July 2016, Morocco officially received the first batch of Abrams M1A1 tanks. A ceremony was held at the ECGCM at Nouaceur in the presence of Moroccan and US civil and military officials.
According to the state-owned news agency MAP, the 2016 delivery is part of a procurement contract which would extend over the years 2017 and 2018. The transaction reflects “the shared will of Morocco and of the United States of America to deepen their defense cooperation.”