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Purchase: AIM-9X Block II missiles for Morocco

The US DSCA announces Morocco’s official request to buy 20 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder short range air-to-air missiles, plus 10 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missile All-Up-Rounds (missiles with seekers and wiring, but no motor, in their case), 8 CATM-9X-2 Missile Guidance Units, 8 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units, 2 Dummy Air Training Missiles, plus containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support. The DSCA adds that the “Royal Moroccan Air Force is modernizing its fighter aircraft to better support its own air defense needs.”

Recall that the July 9/08 DSCA request for F-16s involved AIM-9Ms, which still equip many American aircraft and are inferior to the Vympel R-73/AA-11 Archer missiles flown on Algerian fighters. AIM-9X missiles are significantly more advanced, with greatly improved seekers and maneuverability. The key Block II addition is lock-on after launch, which takes full advantage of the missile’s characteristics, and the advantages of helmet-mounted sights. By telling the missile to fly to a designated location and look for a target, kills have even been scored behind the firing aircraft. This initial number of missiles would give the RMAF’s new F-16s enough missiles to train with, and field a very preliminary operational capability.

The estimated cost is up to $50 million, with exact totals to be negotiated if a contract is signed with prime contractor Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ. Implementation of this proposed sale will require travel of U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Morocco on a temporary basis for program technical support and management oversight, but the DSCA has no estimate of how many yet.

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