June 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $250.4 million contract to support Morocco's current fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of this possible sale Thursday, which includes sustainment, support equipment, spare parts, training and related items of the aircraft for the Royal Moroccan Air Force.
Morocco's government has requested a continuation of sustainment support through the foreign military sales program.
"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major Non-NATO ally that is an important force for political stability and economic progress in North Africa," DSCA said in a news release.
The agency said the proposed sale will improve Morocco's self-defense capability, as well as continue to strengthen the interoperability with the United States and other regional allies but it will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
In March, the State Department approved for Morocco the purchase of 25 F-16C/D Block 72s and upgrades of its existing 23 F‑16s to the more advanced F‑16V block 52+ configuration. The deal is worth $4.9 billion.
Lockheed Martin is the primary contractor of the F-16, which is commonly called "Viper" by pilots and crews because it looks like a viper snake, according to F-16.net.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact and multi-role fighter aircraft that is highly maneuverable, according to the Air Force. General Dynamics, which is now owned by Lockheed Martin, designed the F-16. A single-seat model first flew in December 1976.
The F-16B is a two-seat model with tandem cockpits that are about the same size as the one in the A model.
The United States, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway jointly produced an initial 348 F-16s for their air forces.
The consortium, which now includes Portugal, assembles the F100 engine used in the European F-16s. Final airframe assembly lines are in Belgium and the Netherlands.