Royal Moroccan Air Force: Wikis


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Royal Moroccan Air Force
القوات الجوية الملكية المغربية
al-Quwwat al-Jawwiyah al-Malakiyah al-Maghribiyah
Forces Royales Air
Moroccan Air Force.png

Active 1956 -
Country Morocco
Branch Air Force
Size 13,500 personnel
300 pilots
Part of Administration of Defence إدارة الدفاع
Engagements Western Sahara conflict
Sand War
Military Leadership General Ahmed Boutaleb
(Inspector of the Royal Air Force)
Civilian Leadership King Mohammed VI
Roundel Roundel of the Royal Moroccan Air Force.svg
Fin flash Moroccan fin flash.PNG
Aircraft flown
Attack Mirage F1CH/EH
Fighter Mirage F1CH/EH
F-5E Tiger II
Trainer Alpha Jet E
FFA AS-202/18 Bravo
T-6 Texan
Transport C-130H Hercules

The Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) (Arabic: القوات الجوية الملكية المغربية ; transliterated: 'al-Quwwat al-Jawwiyah al-Malakiyah al-Maghribiyah; French: Forces Royales Air) is the air force branch of the Moroccan Armed Forces.



The beginnings

The Moroccan air force was formed on November 19, 1956 as the “Aviation Royale Chérifienne” (Sherifian Royal Aviation). Its modern installations and bases were inherited from France (Meknes, Rabat {in tandem with the United States}, Marrakech), the United States (Rabat {in tandem with France}, Kenitra, Benguérir, Boulhault, Nouasser and Sidi Slimane) and Spain (Laayoune).

The first acquisitions of this newly formed air force were 6 Morane-Saulnier MS500 Criquet, 3 Max Holste MH.1521 Broussard transport aircraft, 2 Beech E50 Twin Bonanza, 1 De Havilland DH114 Heron and 1 Bell 47G helicopter.

In 1961, it changed its name to "Force Aérienne Royale Marocaine" (Royal Moroccan Air Force), a denomination still used until now. In the same period, it obtained 12 MiG-17 fighters, 2 MiG-15UTI "Midget" trainers and 4 Ilyushin Il-28 bombers from the Soviet Union. 24 Fouga Magister training aircraft were also received from France.

The political rift with the USSR pushed Morocco to seek a new ally in the United States, acquiring from the latter 6 Northrop F-5 combat aircraft (4 single-seat F-5A and 2 two-seat F-5B) and another 20 F-5A and 4 F-5B in 1966. As for the transport units, they had at that moment 10 Douglas C-47, 18 Fairchild C-119G and 6 C-130 Hercules. The helicopter fleet was composed of 24 Augusta-Bell AB205A, and training was satisfied with 12 North American T-6 Texan.

The next modernization of the Moroccan air force took place just before the Sahara conflict, with the acquisition of Mirage F-1CH attack aircraft, Beech T-34C Mentor training aircraft, Aerospatiale Puma helicopters, and new Hercules transport aircraft to substitute the older units.

On 19 October the 69 Squadron at Tanta was joined by a Squadron of Moroccan Air Force Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighters. Originally, the Force Aérienne Royal du Maroc (FARM) intended to send two units to Egypt in a case of a new war against Israel. Only one unit could be deployed now: the major problem was that after the coup attempt in 1972 many of the pilots of the 1st Squadron were arrested, and the second problem was that of logistics: barely 50% of Moroccan F-5A/Bs – all of which were supplied from USA, in accordance to a Military Assistance Program (“MAP”), or from Iran – were operational at any time. In essence, the FARM F-5A/Bs were “on loan” from the USA, which conditioned delivery on their use solely for defence of Morocco. As it seems, this did not keep the FARM from deploying assets – including at least 14 pilots trained on MiG-17s, but apparently also around a dozen of F-5As – into the war zone. According to unconfirmed reports, the F-5As arrived after a lengthy trip, via Algeria, Tunis and Libya, accompanied by Lockheed C-130 Hercules transports that carried spare parts, weapons, and equipment. Moroccans started flying already on the following day, initially being tasked with CAP missions over the Nile Delta, but are not known to have had any kind of encounters with Israeli aircraft during the war. (Nevertheless, it might be of interest to add in this place that the in January 1974 two F-5As armed with a pair of AIM-9B Sidewinders and 20mm cannons, plus carrying one small fuel tank under the centreline each, was scrambled to intercept a pair of IDF/AF Mirage IIICs on a reconnaissance mission. As the Israelis turned away once the F-5As became obvious, dragging both FARM fighters behind them, concerned about a possible ambush by IDF/AF McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs the EAF mission control eventually ordered both Moroccans to return, replacing them by two EAF MiG-21MFs from el-Mansourah AB.). Meanwhile, the No.69 Squadron became involved in operations against the Israeli bridgehead on Deverosoir and other targets in the area surrounding the Great Bitter Lake, on the Suez Canal, meanwhile captured by the Israelis.

From the Western Sahara Conflict to present

At the beginning of the conflict, the Fouga Magister aircraft were the first to see action. Later on, the F-5 aircraft were thrown into action, to strike against Polisario targets. From the beginning, the objective of Morocco was to create a controlled and safe zone in the area considered as “useful” for its political and economic interests, that is, the Capital Al-Aaiun, the religious center Smara, and the phosphate field of Bu-Craa.

In 1980 construction of the Sahara defensive walls began, consisting of every type of obstacles for infantry and armoured vehicles, such as mines and radars, all backed by Quick Intervention Units (Détachements d'Intervention Rapide) able to move to and quickly reinforce every location along the wall, aided by air-transport composed of Super Puma, AB-205 and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

As to the anti-tank defenses, it was decided additionally to use Hughes 500MD light helicopters with TOW missiles to neutralize the Polisario T-54, T-55 and BMP tanks. And apart from the ground radars of the Wall, two C-130 Hercules with SLAR system were also used for the detection of enemy units. After the loss of 1 F-5A and 2 RF-5A in the battles, 20 F-5E "Tiger II" and 4 F-5F were acquired thanks to Saudi financial support.

The main problem that faced the F-5 in Western Sahara was its insufficient range to realize missions in depth in the vast battlefield of the Sahara desert.

To minimize this problem, 4 tankers were purchased to provide the Moroccan “Freedom Fighters” with air-to-air refueling, and consequently increase their attack range. The Mirage F-1 were responsible of defending the air-space against a possible Libyan or Algerian attack, who's governments supported both financially and politically the Polisario front, during the beginning of the conflict.

In 1977, the Moroccan Mirage pilots started their training in an Air-force base located in Orange, France. In this same year, the Moroccan Air Force started receiving its first Mirage F-1C fighters. Libya and Algeria did not attack Morocco, and consequently Morocco destined its Mirages to ground-attack missions against Polisario. 3 Mirage Deliveries were received between 1978 and 1982. The first delivery were 30 Mirage F1-CH received between February and December, 1978. The second one, was received between December 1979 and July 1982 and comprised 14 Mirage F1-EH. Between July 1980 and June a final delivery of 6 Mirage F-1EH-200 was received.

During the 90’s there were plans for purchasing Mirage 2000 or F-16 fighter aircraft, however due to unavailable funding they were not realized. Currently, and possibly as a result of the Algerian negotiations with Russia to purchase MiG-29 and Su-30MKA attack aircraft, the Royal Moroccan Air Force started seeking to modernize its ageing fleet.

In 2001, the Moroccan AF bought an unknown number of K8 trainers, which are likely to be based at Marrakech or Meknes.

In December 2007, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency also announced a related $200 million request to supply Morocco with 24 Beechcraft T-6B Texan II trainers.[1]

The Government of Morocco has also requested a sale of:

  • 5 F100-PW-229 or F110-GE-129 IPE spare engines;
  • 4 APG-68(V)9 spare radar sets;
  • 30 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing Systems (CMDS);
  • 30 AN/ALR-56M Radar Warning Receivers (RWR);
  • 60 LAU-129/A Launchers;
  • 30 LAU-117 Launchers;
  • 6 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems;
  • 4 AN/ARC-238 Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGAR) radios with HAVE QUICK I/II;
  • 24 Conformal Fuel Tanks (pairs);
  • 4 Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals;
  • 2 Link-16 Ground Stations;
  • 4 Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Embedded GPS/ Inertial Navigation Systems (INS);
  • 12 AN/AAQ-33 SNIPER Targeting Pods or AN/AAQ-28 LITENING Targeting Pods;
  • 5 Tactical Air Reconnaissance Systems (TARS) or DB-110 Reconnaissance Pods (RECCE);
  • 4 AN/APX-113 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) Systems;
  • 28 AN/ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDEWS) or 28 AN/ALQ-187 Advanced Self-Protection Integrated Suites;
  • (ASPIS II) or 28 AN/ALQ-178 Self Protection Electronic Warfare Suites (SPEWS);
  • 1 Unit Level Trainer;
  • 30 AIM-120C-5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to Air Missiles (AMRAAM);
  • 60 AIM-9M SIDEWINDER Missiles;
  • 20 AGM-88B/C HARM Missiles;
  • 8 AGM-65D/G MAVERICK Missiles;
  • 45 AGM-65H MAVERICK Missiles;
  • 50 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kits (which include 20 GBU-38 for MK-82 500 lb bomb, and 30 GBU-31, for MK-84, 2000 lb bomb);
  • 20 GBU-24, PAVEWAY III kits;
  • 50 GBU-10, PAVEWAY II kits;
  • 150 GBU-12, PAVEWAY II kits;
  • 60 Enhanced GBU-12 PAVEWAY II bombs;
  • 300 MK-82 training bombs;
  • 60,000 20mm training projectiles;
  • 4,000 ALE-47 self-protection chaff
  • 4,000 ALE-47 self-protection flares and associated equipment and services

Latest Fighter Modernization

In the summer of 2007, the American F-16 and the French Rafale had been short-listed for the deal, but the Moroccan defense officials contracted U.S. company Lockheed Martin for 24 of the company's Block 52 F-16 fighter aircraft, powered by P&W F100-229 engines. Lockheed Martin awarded the Massachusetts-based Raytheon a contract to integrate its newest electronic warfare (ACES) suite into the F-16s as part of the Moroccan air force deal. The ACES system is Raytheon’s latest offering for the F-16, and consists of a radar warning receiver, digital jammer and chaff-flare dispensers. The system features a new, all-digital, low cost, high performance radar warning receiver for dense signal environments, and a new digital RF memory-based (DRFM) jammer with enhanced resource management and an upgraded "bag of tricks". Raytheon’s contract calls for deliveries to begin in December 2009.

Four of the F-16s will be equipped with DB-110 airborne reconnaissance system from Goodrich Corporation. Goodrich's DB-110 allows pilots to capture images day or night using electro-optical sensors. Images can then be transmitted back for real time analysis. The system is in use on F-16s operated by the Hellenic and Polish Air Forces.

The F-16 deal has a potential value of $2.4 billion.

The principle contractors will be

  • Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control, Dallas, Texas
  • Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Seattle, Washington
  • Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona

The proposed sale will allow the Moroccan Air Force to modernize its aging fighter inventory, thereby enabling Morocco to support both its own air defense needs and coalition operations. Morocco is a Major Non-NATO ally.


  • Rabat Salé (GMME) – Air Base Nº 1
  • Meknes - Bassatine (GMFM) – Air Base Nº 2
  • Kenitra (GMMY) – Air Base Nº 3
  • Casablanca - Air Base Nº 4
  • Sidi Slimane (GMSL) – Air Base Nº 5
  • Marrakech (GMMX) – Academy Base
  • Laayoune (El Aaiún) - Hassan Island (GMML) – Detachment 1
  • El Charida - share military/commercial airport


Currently the total number of the Royal Moroccan Air Force personnel is 13,500. 300 of these are pilots (According to Jane’s 1999).

Aircraft Inventory

The Royal Moroccan Air Force flies a variety of Western-built airplanes, particularly French built aircraft. The Royal Moroccan Air Force's equipment consists of[2][3][4]

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Dassault Mirage F1  France Fighter/Attack Mirage F1 MF2000 ASTRAC 27 50 aircraft delivered, 27 upgraded to MF2000 ASTRAC
Northrop F-5  United States Fighter/Attack F-5A/B
24 F-5E upgraded to F-5T III.
Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon  United States Multirole Fighter F-16C block 50/52
F-16CD block 50/52+
0 (18)
0 (6)
delivery in 2010
T-6 Texan II  United States Trainer T-6C 0 (24) delivery in 2010-2012
Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet E  France
Trainer Alpha Jet E 24
Cessna T-37 Dragonfly  United States Trainer T-37B 14
Beechcraft T-34 Turbo Mentor  United States Trainer T-34 12
FFA AS-202/18 Bravo  Switzerland/ Italy Trainer AS-202/18 Bravo 14
CASA CN-235  Spain Transport CN.235M 7
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  United States Transport/Tanker/EW C-130/KC-130/RC-130 17
C-27J Spartan  Italy/ United States Transport/Tanker/EW 0 (4) 4 on order
KC-135  United States Tanker KC-135 2 One sold to Omega Air
Dassault Falcon 20  France EW Falcon 20 2
Beechcraft Super King Air  United States VIP transport King Air 13
Cessna 414  United States VIP Jet Cessna 414 1
Cessna 421 Golden Eagle  United States VIP Jet Cessna 421 1
Cessna 560  United States VIP Jet Cessna 560 1
Dassault Falcon 50  France VIP Jet Falcon 50 1
Dassault Falcon 100  France VIP Jet Falcon 100 1
Gulfstream II  United States VIP Jet Gulfstream II 2
Gulfstream III  United States VIP Jet Gulfstream III 1
Aérospatiale SA 342 Gazelle  France Attack Helicopter 6/18 SA 342K/L
MD 500 Defender  United States Attack Helicopter 24
Eurocopter SA 330 Puma  Spain
Transport Helicopter SA 330C 34
Agusta-Bell AB205A Iroquois  United States Transport Helicopter AB205A 27
Boeing CH-47 Chinook  United States Transport Helicopter CH-47C 9 (+3) 9 in service, 3 CH-47 ordered in 2009
Sikorsky S-70 Blackhawk  United States Transport Helicopter S-70-25 2 Operated by Gendarmerie Royale
  • Note that this list is incomplete.



 United States AIM-9 Sidewinder
 France Matra R530
 France R550 Magic
 United States AIM-120 AMRAAM


 United States AGM-65 Maverick
 United States AGM-88 HARM delivery starting on 2010
 United States GBU-24 Paveway III
 United States GBU-10 Paveway II
 United States GBU-12 Paveway II


 France Exocet

Previous Aircraft

 Soviet Union Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 Fagot
 Soviet Union Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 Fresco
 Soviet Union Ilyushin Il-28 Beagle
 France Socata MS-733
 France Socata MS-885
 France Socata MS-893
 United States North American T-6 Texan
 Italy Aermacchi SF.260
 United States North American T-28 Trojan
 France Fouga Magister
 United States Beechcraft Musketeer
 United Kingdom Hawker Sea Fury
 United States Douglas C-47 Dakota
 United States Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar
 Germany Dornier Do 28
 France Max Holste Broussard
 United States Hiller UH-12 Raven
 United States Kaman HH-43 Huskie
 United States Bell 47
 United States Sikorsky S-58 Choctaw


  1. ^
  2. ^ The International Institute for Strategic Studies IISS 2007
  3. ^ Flight International, 11-17 Nov. 2008
  4. ^

External links

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