Morocco’s steps to modernize its Air fleet army have led to growing concerns from Spain.
Rabat – Spanish news agency EFE has revealed that Morocco is the only African and Mediterranean country that owns an unmanned aircraft of the same spec as the drone the US used to kill Iran’s second most powerful figure, Major-General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport.
Although the US did not disclose the type of drone, Spanish media identified it as the MQ-9 Reaper, also known as Predator B or “killer of the heavens.”
The EFE agency described the drone as a multimission model, with a 15,200-meter flight ceiling, 1,850 km autonomy, and remote piloting that is mainly used for the execution of moving targets, as well as in intelligence operations.
With 2 tonnes of weight, the drone can reach a top speed of 370 kilometers per hour.
EFE reported that as well as Morocco, countries including Italy, Turkey, the UK, France, Spain, and the Netherlands all own the same technology. The outlet did not specify how many aircraft each country owns.
Designed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the MQ-9 entered service in 2007. The US air fleet currently includes 93 drones.
The $15 million aircraft has a Multispectral Targeting System that allows target discovery and designation by means of laser and infrared sensors, as well as by using various cameras to see activity live from any corner of the planet.
The aircraft is also equipped with Unit-12 Paveway II, GBU-38 guided pumps, four AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles which enable a precise carrying out of attacks with slight collateral damage.
Rift in Spain-Morocco relations
Morocco’s moves to modernize its military including recent arms acquisitions, and military joint exercises with allied countries have led some factions in Spain to express concerns about its military power in the Mediterranean region.
Diplomatic relations between Morocco and Spain, though historically strong, are experiencing a slight cooling off after Morocco proposed to bills to redefine the borders of its territorial waters, as well as the establishment of an exclusive free zone of 200 nautical miles off the Moroccan coast.
Morocco seeks to extend the outer limits of its continental shelf off the Atlantic coast. The move conflicts with Spain’s attempt to assert its sovereignty over a maritime zone in off the Canary Islands where there is an overlap with the area claimed by Morocco.
The leader of the Spanish far-right political party Vox, Santiago Abascal has accused Morocco of spending money acquired from Spain, as part of Spain-Morocco bilateral cooperation to combat irregular migration, to buy armaments from other countries.
“For example, our Moroccan neighbors are wasting the money that Mr. Sanchez offers them to control the borders by buying tanks and helicopter gunships while they claim the waters of the Canaries,” Abascal argued in a bid to further destabilize Spanish Head of Government Pedro Sanchez during his investiture debate.