Morocco 'sets up air base that could soon use Israeli technology': report

Morocco 'sets up air base that could soon use Israeli technology': report
2 min read
05 January, 2022
Morocco has been setting up an aerial defence site near its capital Rabat, satellite photos suggest, which security experts believe could soon house Israeli technology
The Moroccan aerial site is located at a town near the capital Rabat [Ck Ng/EyeEm/Getty]

Morocco has been setting up an aerial defence site near its capital Rabat which Moroccan security experts believe could soon house Israeli technology, satellite photos suggest.

The facility, situated at the town of Sidi Yahya El-Gharb, was discovered after a source provided Defense News photos of the site taken from Google Earth.

While they declined to give a precise location, citing national security, Defense News was able to accurately situate the base itself.

East Asia Nonproliferation Project (EANP) Director Jeffrey Lewis was given the site's coordinates and a more recent photograph, taken on Sunday and obtained with the help of imaging company Planet Labs.

"The facility is definitely an air defence base," he said.

Morocco-based defence expert Mohammad Shkeir said he believed the base could soon feature technology from Israel, among other countries.

"This base will operate air defense systems procured from China, Patriot 3 missile systems from the United States, as well as defense systems from Israel, after the recent visit of the Israeli defense minister to Morocco and the agreements signed in this regard," Shkeir said.

Fellow expert Abdel Hamid Harfi also said Rabat was looking at Israeli air defence systems.

"Morocco is interested in the Israeli Barak 8 system, which may be one of the new systems that may enter forces," Harfi said.

Harfi said he believes there will be news on Morocco purchasing mid and long-range anti-air solutions by 2023 at the latest.

Morocco normalised ties with Israel in 2020. The two countries have signed a number of deals on future cooperation, to the chagrin of many Moroccans.

Work finished at Sidi Yahya El-Gharb around August 2020, the EANP's Lewis said.

Morocco bought anti-air tech from a French company in 2019 and 24 anti-air missiles from a Chinese firm in late 2017.

Discussing the Chinese deal, Lewis explained: "The construction of the base, which also began in 2017, would suggest it was created with this large purchase in mind."

He also said Rabat published a photo of one of the Chinese missiles and he had confirmed this was captured at Sidi Yahya El-Gharb.