Israel and Morocco sign defence agreement
Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz has officially signed the new defence agreement between Morocco and Israel. In the coming years, Morocco will acquire a long list of Israeli defence systems.
Within the framework of his visit to Morocco, Minister of Defence, Benny Gantz and Moroccan Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in Charge of National Defence, H.E. Abdellatif Loudiyi, signed a groundbreaking defence MOU.
The agreement provides a solid framework that formalizes defence relations between the countries and establishes a foundation that will support any future cooperation. It will enable the defence establishments of both countries to enjoy increased cooperation in the fields of intelligence, industrial collaboration, military training and more.
The agreement is a significant step in further strengthening existing relations of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco, which already benefit from increased economic cooperation, bilateral tourism, and warm people-to-people relations.
Following the signing ceremony, the Ministers held a fruitful discussion during which Minister Gantz expressed his gratitude to His Majesty, King Mohammed VI and to his host, Minister Loudiyi, for supporting the expansion of ties between Israel and Morocco.
In light of developing threats in the MENA region of the Middle East and North Africa, the Ministers reiterated the importance of enhanced bilateral cooperation. Minister Gantz also emphasized the important role of the Kingdom of Morocco in maintaining regional peace and stability, and raised the need to further expand normalization and peace accords with new partners.
Earlier today, Minister Gantz paid his respects at the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V. He laid a ceremonial wreath and wrote a message to the nation of Morocco in the book of visitors. The message pays tribute to Morocco’s rich history, culture and legacy, and acknowledges the deepening relations between Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco.
Minister Gantz said that the MOU with Morocco, is a very significant development, "which will enable us to work on joint projects and promote industrial cooperation. Relations between Israel and Morocco should be expanded and enhanced.”
Morocco has asked Israel to supply its armed forces with a long list of advanced defence systems. The request includes different types of drones, radars, communication system and early warning systems.
Israeli sources confirmed that Israeli companies have been contracted to supply various drones and to build a local capability to manufacture drones. The sources say that Israel and Morocco are in the process of developing a project to produce "suicide" drones in the kingdom.
The new agreement will allow Morocco to manufacture armed drones in commercial quantities and at relatively low costs. In addition, the sources added that the production line in Morocco is close to important export markets.
The drone that will be produced in Morocco is intended for attack purposes but it can also carry out intelligence gathering missions. The agreement for the joint project comes after several months of successful negotiations between the Moroccan side and the Israeli company Bluebird Aero Systems.
Last year Israeli aerospace industries (IAI) purchased 50% of Blue Bird's shares.
Morocco was the fourth Arab state to establish ties with Israel last year after the signing of the Abraham Accords with some Gulf states.
Blue Bird develops and manufactures different types of drones for intelligence gathering missions. Since the acquisition of half of the company's shares by IAI, it is developing new versions of armed drones that are in growing demand.
In recent days Israeli sources confirmed that Morocco is interested in the Elta ELM-2084 radar that is part of the Rafael Iron Dome air defence systems.
The ELM-2084 Multi-Mission Radar (MMR) detects high and low flying targets, tracks, classifies and generates a real-time Air Situation Picture of all aerial targets such as UAVs, tactical aerial weapons, loitering munitions, cruise and tactical ballistic missiles, as well as Rockets, Artillery, and Mortars. The MMR’s innovative design delivers high accuracy and rapid update rates, performing concurrent search with dedicated track beam. MMR can acquire targets through external cueing from a C2 system and can operate independently or be integrated into a radar network.
Arie Egozi is a defence journalist living in Israel.