Rabat – Morocco has inaugurated its first military base dedicated to long-range air defense, near the town of Sidi Yahia el Gharb in the Rabat-Sale-Kenitra region, military news outlet Defensa reported last week.
The base hosts a batch of China’s long-range air defense system FD-2000B, which is one of the “four batteries that Morocco” acquired in 2017, Defensa wrote.
According to the report, Morocco received the first battery for the FD-2000 in mid-2021 but only activated it a few weeks ago.
“The FD-20000B long-range air defense system is an export version of the HQ-9B, which has a range of 250 kilometers,” it said, adding that the base hosts a “fixed circular launch point” with a diameter of 170 meters in addition to storage and maintenance facilities.
Morocco’s military has undergone major upgrades in recent years. The North African country has been purchasing state-of-the-art defense equipment from a broad range of international partners — including the US, France, Turkey, and increasingly Israel, among others — to improve its armed forces’ operational capabilities.
In November, for example, Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces (FAR) acquired Israel’s Skylock Dome System to boost surveillance and monitoring capabilities, especially in the southern provinces.
Also in November, Defensa reported that Morocco was looking to upgrade two of its Royal Air Force air bases to receive the fleet of the state-of-the-art F-16 Block 72 it ordered in 2019.
Morocco’s increasingly assertive defense expenditures have placed it among the top 40 largest importers of major military equipment worldwide, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) concluded in a study published in March this year.
SIPRI identified the US as Morocco’s main arms supplier (90%); following were France (9.2%) and the UK (0.3%).
“By the end of 2020 several large arms deliveries to Morocco remained outstanding, including for 24 combat aircraft and 24 combat helicopters from the USA,” SIPRI reported.