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State Department approves possible F-16 sales, upgrades for Morroco

By Allen Cone
State Department approves possible F-16 sales, upgrades for Morroco
The F-16V, the latest and most advanced variant of the F-16, takes to the skies of Fort Worth, Texas, in 2015. Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin/Flickr

March 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department has approved two possible foreign military sales to Morocco for new F-16s and upgrades to their existing F‑16 fleet for about $4.9 billion.

On Friday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the possible sales.

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In a $3.8 billion purchase, Morocco requests 25 F-16C/D Block 72 aircraft and related equipment, including engines, weapons and navigation systems and spares. The Block 72 aircraft will then be upgraded to the F-16V configuration.

In the other contract, worth $985.2 million, the government seeks to upgrade its existing 23 F‑16 fleet to the F‑16V configuration, known as the Viper and launched in 2012.

Support services on both contracts include personnel training, U.S. government and contractor engineering, and technical and logistical services. The prime contractor for both contracts will be Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the F-16.

In an air combat role, the F-16 can locate targets in all weather conditions and detect low flying aircraft in radar ground clutter. In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles.

F-16C/D Block 72 and the F-16V Block 72 are the latest versions of the F-16 with cutting-edge technology that includes Active Electronically Scanned Array radar as well as avionics technology infusion.

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Because Morocco already operates an F‑16 fleet, it "will have no difficulty absorbing this aircraft and services into its armed forces," DSCA said.

The purchases will "enhance Morocco's ability to undertake coalition operations, as it has done in the past in flying sorties against ISIS in Syria and Iraq."

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