The first fifty American Abrams tanks (M1A1) will be delivered to the Moroccan military in November 2016. The order is for two hundred, to be delivered in instalments
|An M1A1 Abrams, firing its US built M256 120 mm tank gun|
This sixty-one ton "third generation" version of the main American battle tank will replace the T72 tanks that the Moroccan armed forces acquired from Russia. With laser range finder, a gyro-stabilised gun and sophisticated computer firing system the Abrams is superior to the T72.
The Moroccan versions of the M1A1 Abrams tanks will be equipped with the Rheinmetall 120 mm, a smoothbore tank gun designed and produced by the West German Rheinmetall-DeTec AG company and produced under license for the Americans. The American version, the M256, uses a coil spring recoil system instead of a hydraulic system.
The Abrams has a crew of 4 men and can travel at 72km / h, with a range of 465 km.
However, the M1A1 is not the latest version of the Abrams. Since the early 1990s the Americans began producing the M1A2 with technological improvements of the basic M1A1 design. Outwardly similar in appearance to the M1A1, the most notable exterior changes on the M1A2 are the redesigned Commander's Weapon Station (CWS) and the addition of a Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer) on the left side of the turret forward of the loader's hatch. Internally, however, the M1A2 has been radically redesigned to take advantage of newer technology.
Approved for implementation in 1995, the M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package) is a technology upgrade and standardisation program, whereby the Army's fleet of M1s and M1A2s will all be brought to a common standard. It is unclear at this stage if the Moroccan versions have been standardised.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, said the foreign sales are key to keeping the Abrams line and workforce at the plant running for the U.S. Army’s future needs. Portman began talking to Moroccan officials two years ago about the Abrams tank program and integrating the Abrams tank into the Royal Moroccan Army.
The Army awarded a contract to General Dynamics Land Systems for $17 million to provide removal and disposal of 50 M-1A1 frontal turret armor packages and installation of the M-1A1 situational awareness frontal turret armor packages
For the Abrams tanks the Moroccan Army will provide air cover with the US F16 although analysts suggest that in the future there will be more reliance on drone technology.
The US has already granted General Atomics an export license to sell the unarmed Predator XP drone to Morocco, but is unclear if they will be purchased. Other sources have suggested that the U.S might consider selling armed MQ-9 Reapers to Morocco.
However, drones may come from another country. The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on its website that the Israeli Military Industries, a government-owned weapons manufacturer, sold Morocco drones over the past year through a French company.
|"Heron" UAV's have a range of 350km and can operate for up to 52 hours without refuelling|
The Moroccan army took delivery of three Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the end of last April, via the French company Dassault Aviation, which acted as the mediator in the deal. The Aeronautica Y Astronautica magazine published a document which confirms that Morocco bought the Israeli-designed aircraft. The army also possesses four US-made UAVs.