Morocco’s Harpoon missiles will have reduced coastal targeting capabilities

The Boeing AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles which Morocco requested to procure from the United States for its F-16s fighter jets will have reduced coastal targeting capabilities says the US.

The Harpoon missiles to be supplied to Morocco are the “non-coastal target suppression” version, which will not be able to attack land targets, this is according to an April 27 US Federal Register arms sale notification.

It was announced on Tuesday, 14 April by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) that the State Department had approved the sale of 10 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles to Morocco for an estimated USD 62 million, although, the reduced capability was not mentioned.

One of the new capabilities of the Block II AGM-84L Harpoon is its substantially improved ability to find target ships sailing close to shore or in congested waters, as well as its ability to use its GPS-aided navigation to fly precisely to pre-launch programmed target coordinates.

Block II AGM-84L Harpoon is its substantially improved ability to find target ships sailing close to shore (Credit Boeing Inc)

Block II is part of our spiral development plan for Harpoon,” said Jim O’Neill, Boeing general manager of Navy Missile Systems. “Harpoon has proven it is a naval precision-strike weapon that has the ability to attack surface ships and land targets at standoff ranges.”

The proposed sale of the missiles and support will increase the Moroccan Air Force’s maritime partnership potential and align its capabilities with existing regional baselines. Morocco intends to use the missiles on its F-16, multi-role fighter aircraft to enhance its capabilities in effective defense of critical sea-lanes. Morocco will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles into its armed forces. The sales notification explained.

The Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) is looking to procure additional
batch of F-16 Fighting Falcons from the United States
and upgrade its existing fleet. To that effect, Morocco has requested for twenty-five units of the latest Block 72 fighters worth some $3.8 billion.

Lockheed Martin hopes to make additional sales of its F-16 fighter jets to countries in Africa especially Morocco. The North African nation has also earmarked nearly a billion dollars for the sale of various ammunition and weapons from the United States through the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

The various ammunition and weapons requested includes armament for the Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16 Viper fighter jets such as 5,810 MK82-1 bombs (fitted with Tritonal explosive filling); 300 Mk 84-4 bombs (Tritonal filling); 105 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) KMU-572F/B Tail Kits; 180 MXU-651B/B Air Foil Groups (AFG) for GBU-10 Paveway II guided bombs; 4 125 MXU-650C/B AFGs for GBU-12 Paveway II guided bombs; 4 305 MAU-169L/B Computer Control Groups (CCG) for GBU-10,-12,-16 weapons; and 5 178 FMU-152 fuzes.

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.