Morocco receives IAI Heron UAV in $48 million deal

Morocco has reportedly received three Israeli-made Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as part of a $48 million arms deal.

According to French online news outlet, Intelligence Online, the UAVs, arrived in Morocco on 26 January amidst report of a clandestine diplomatic inroad was made between Morocco and Israel.

Although, it is unclear what the military deal signed between the two countries also includes. However, Morocco and Israel have a long history of military and intelligence cooperation but have no official diplomatic ties.

While Intelligence Online did not specify the type of IAI Heron UAV acquired, but the three Heron UAVs are expected to be deployed in Western Sahara to counter extremist groups and fight rebel movements.

Also, it is not clear if this new deal is part of a 2015 acquisition of three Heron UAV which was reported on the site farmorocco, covering the Moroccan army, and the military magazine REVISTA DE AERONÁUTICA Y ASTRONÁUTICA.

So far, the IAI Heron has about 3 variants including; a Turkish version, EADS Harfang and the Super Heron.

The special variant operated by Turkey; which utilizes Turkish-designed and manufactured electro-optical subsystems. For example, the Turkish Herons use the ASELFLIR-300T airborne thermal Imaging and targeting system designed and manufactured by ASELSAN of Turkey.

The Heron can carry an array of sensors, including infrared camera and visible-light airborne ground surveillance, intelligence systems and various radar systems, totaling up to 250 kg (550 lb).

Other countries operating the Heron include Singapore, India and Turkey. France operates a derivative of Heron named Eagle or Harfang.

Darek Liam

Darek Liam is the North African editor for AMB, where he writes about the intersection of Technology and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as African Union correspondent.