Rabat reached an agreement with Israeli defence companies to build two factories to produce drones at low cost

Marruecos será el primer país africano en fabricar drones

photo_camera AFP/ JALAA MAREY - An Israeli Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft

For the past two years, Morocco has been increasing its drone imports in a context of tension with Algeria and Western Sahara, which it considers an integral part of its territory. It has bought drones from several countries such as China, Turkey, France and Israel, constituting a veritable fleet, probably the most developed in North Africa. According to The Wall Street Journal, the UK has reportedly reached an agreement with two leading Israeli companies in the manufacture of both attack and defence drones. The construction of two drone factories in Morocco would make the North African country the continent's leading drone builder.

With Tel Aviv's help, these drones will be manufactured at a lower cost at two Moroccan military bases. This will soon integrate Morocco into the club of drone manufacturing countries. It will also be the only African country to produce them. 

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Among other things, one of the reasons for the deal is the Israeli government's major expansion, which has invested close to $3 billion with three Arab countries including Morocco. As US media report, the drones to be manufactured in Morocco will have two main functions. The first will have to do with surveillance and remote intelligence and data collection; the second is related to attack. The agreement signed by the two countries not only includes the creation of the two factories, but there is also a clause in which Morocco commits to the purchase of ten Israeli drones.

The site Tactical Report, which specialises in military affairs, specifies that the Moroccan army intends to reinforce its aerial arsenal with a squadron of helicopters for transport and reconnaissance. It specifies that the armed forces have issued an international call for tenders. Several companies have expressed their interest and have prepared their bids. The Cherifian kingdom has already announced its desire to acquire drones in early 2021. According to a press release from Bluebird Aero Systems, Rabat purchased 150 drones.

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Two models of these drones, Wonder B-VTOL and Thander BVTOL, were on display during the Moroccan-US military disaster management exercise, organised from 12 to 23 September at the kingdom's military facility in Kenitra.

Hisham Motaddad, an international relations and security expert based in Canada, stressed that Morocco's choice to open up to several poles to invest in the drone industry within the Kingdom is part of a policy of diversification and interests of strategic partners to strengthen the military arsenal of the Royal Armed Forces to counter any infiltration by the Polisario militia. According to Al-Arab, this investment will also create an opportunity to develop the Kingdom's military manpower and military industry, he told Al-Arab. In his statements, the international relations expert pointed out that the diversification approach of the partners also allows Morocco to strengthen its internal immunity.

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With the growing demand for drones in recent years by many military powers, countries are seeking to expand their borders and capacity and dialogue with their most prominent customers, including Morocco, which is the preferred destination for two of the most advanced countries in the field, such as Turkey and Israel itself.

Morocco, as part of its military strategy, is expected to start developing its own drones in the coming months and diversify its equipment, as well as making progress in strengthening its air force.