Morocco’s military said to receive 3 Israeli reconnaissance drones.
Israeli-made Heron long-endurance UAVs served with French Air Force in Afghanistan, will now be deployed against jihadists, rebels in Western Sahara, report says.
Morocco’s military reportedly took possession last week of three Israeli-made reconnaissance drones, sold to the Arab nation via France, despite the lack of any formal relations between the two countries.
The drones, of the “Heron” long-endurance models developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, were bought for some $48 million, according to French website Intelligence Online.
Morocco received them on January 26, the report said, a long delay after their purchase in 2014.
The report said Morocco bought the drones after they were decommissioned from the French military, which used them for surveillance operations in Afghanistan.
Its purchase was part of a modernization push for Morocco’s military.
The French defense contractor Dassault, maker of the famous Mirage line of jet fighters, was said to have mediated the transaction with Israel.
The drones are capable of as much as 52 hours of sustained flight, and can be outfitted with satellite up links, high-definition camera systems and other surveillance gear.
The website said Morocco planned to deploy the UAVs to fight jihadist groups and rebels in Western Sahara.
First deployed in 2005, the Heron is now used by militaries around the world, including Israel, Turkey, India, Brazil, Canada, Australia, France, Azerbaijan, Greece, Germany, Singapore, and the US Navy.
Morocco is considered an ally of the United States, and has long maintained informal but close intelligence ties with Israel.
It was one of the Sunni Arab governments that expressed cautious optimism for the Trump peace plan announced last week.
Rabat said in a statement from its foreign ministry on Wednesday that it “appreciates” the plan, but insisted “acceptance by the parties” was “fundamental to the implementation and sustainability of the plan.”
However, on Saturday it backed a unanimous Arab League resolution rejecting the plan as unfair to the Palestinians.
Press TOI staff 2 February 2020, 6:29 pm