With heightened risks of Morocco-Spain tensions over maritime borders, military experts told Spanish outlet that Morocco’s state-of-the-art F-16 would outmuscle Spain’s F-18.
Rabat – A Spanish media outlet has linked a Spanish Air Force video of two F-18 jet fighters to the adoption of two laws redefining Morocco’s maritime border.
Last week, the foreign affairs committee of the Moroccan parliament passed two laws to “reactualize” the limits of Morocco’s territorial waters. The move aimed to assert Morocco’s sovereignty over its entire maritime coasts, including its southern provinces.
The new laws modified and supplemented Law No.1.81, establishing an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles off the Moroccan coast
The Spanish media was quick to react to Morocco’s move, painting it as a possible source of tensions with Spain.
In an article titled; ‘Spain exhibited its F-18s over the Canary Islands the day after Morocco approved extending its territorial waters,’ Confidencial Digital reported on Spain’s determination to show off its military Tuesday arsenal to deter Rabat from implementing the provisions of the newly adopted laws.
Spain’s deployment of its F-18 over the Canarian sea came just one day after Morocco’s house of councilors voted to adopt the law on Monday evening, December 16, the Spanish outlet insisted.
The Spanish Air Forces did not provide the exact location of the scenes depicted in the video. All it said was that the F-18 took off from the Gando airbase in the Canarian Islands.
The publication came at a time when no air defense maneuvers are being held, leading the Spanish media to speculate that the publication is a response to Morocco’s “reactualization” of its maritime borders.
“The publication did not obey any specific air defense maneuvers, nor was there any other data that would justify why that video was broadcast on that specific date,” wrote Confidencial Digital.
Spanish and Moroccan air fleet comparison
Although the Spanish Air Force seems to possess a more modernized and powerful air fleet, the Spanish news outlet cited a number of military experts who believe that they cannot withstand their Moroccan counterparts.
Morocco has acquired a fleet of state-of-the-art F-16s from the US. The fleet comes, with the latest surveillance equipment and missiles, in addition to a radar of 300 kilometers of range enabling the detection of the Spanish F-18’s equipped with 150 kilometer-range radar.
In addition to having a more powerful engine, the Moroccan F-16, equipped with Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) sights with four hulls is believed to easily outmuscle the Spanish F-18.
JHMCS allows the pilot to fix the fighter jet he wants to shoot down by turning his head and looking in its direction. The Spanish pilot, on the other hand, must be positioned in front of the target so that the launch system fixes it.
Morocco’s Air Forces expenses and acquisition
Morocco has heavily invested in modernizing its air fleet and acquiring the latest generation of fighter jets and helicopters.
The most recent military deal was on November 20, when the US State Department approved the sale of 36 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment to Morocco for an estimated cost of $4.25 billion.
The equipment includes sophisticated attack and defense systems such as Fire Control Radars, anti-tank missiles, Air-to-air missiles, anti-helicopters, drones, and low-level aircraft as well as deadly bombs, in addition to modernized communication devices, sensors, and self-protection.
The acquisition is part of Morocco’s five-year plan, established in 2017, to reach “regional supremacy” by modernizing the military equipment of its army, air force, and navy.
Morocco’s arms deals with the US this year involved the sale of $3.8 billion worth of 25 F-16 aircraft and associated equipment in March, in addition to the upgrading of Morocco’s existing fleet of F-16 fighter jets for a cost of $985 million.
In total, Morocco’s arms acquisition from the US reached $10.3 billion in 2019, outranking Saudi Arabia.