Morocco seeks help from Saudi Arabia to pay for major weapons procurement

MIDDLE EAST DEFENSE NEWSLETTER Dec. 15, 2008


Morocco has sought help from Saudi Arabia to pay for major weapons procurement by the North African kingdom. Rabat has relayed requests for Saudi financial aid that would launch several projects for the Moroccan military. Industry sources said Morocco was believed to have asked Riyad for about $3 billion. "Morocco can't proceed with major projects unless it has a multi-year commitment from the Saudis to pay for aircraft and naval platforms," an
industry source said. "If the Saudis won't come through, nobody else will." The sources said Morocco has sought Saudi aid for the procurement of 24 F-16 Block 52+ multi-role fighters from the United States. The Bush administration and Congress have approved the F-16 as well as an advanced jet trainer in a project estimated at $2.5 billion. The F-16 project was launched in 2008 despite the failure of Morocco to relay a downpayment. The sources said the jet trainer project was suspended because of lack of funds.
The sources said Rabat also needs Saudi financing to launch naval projects with Europe. Over the last year, Morocco has abandoned plans to purchase France's FREMM multi-purpose frigate for a naval platform from the Netherlands. In February 2008, Morocco ordered three three Sigma multi-mission frigates from Schelde Naval Shipbuilding in an $816 million deal.
In May 2008, Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled Bin Sultan met Morocco's military attache in Riyad, Capt. Fuad Fayez. The sources said Fayez briefed Khaled on Moroccan defense projects and requirements for 2009. "During the meeting, they discussed a number of issues of mutual interest," the official Saudi Press Agency said.