Israel-Morocco Defense Cooperation: A Closer Look at the UAV Deal

Israel-Morocco Defense Cooperation: A Closer Look at the UAV Deal


An Israeli company, BlueBird Aero Systems, has sold 150 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Morocco. These UAVs, designed for espionage and reconnaissance, are aimed at bolstering Morocco’s surveillance and intelligence operations. This follows an earlier announcement by Israel Aerospace Industries, a partial owner of BlueBird, to develop UAV projects in Morocco.

The purchased UAV, known as the WanderB, is produced by BlueBird Aero Systems. It is a highly versatile and easy-to-operate platform for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, featuring high endurance, fast operational speed, and extensive coverage. The WanderB combines the attributes of fixed-wing UAVs with the agility of multi-rotor helicopters, enabling vertical takeoff and landing. Its adaptability is showcased in confined spaces such as ship decks or rooftops. Outfitted with advanced sensors, communication systems, and high-performance software algorithms, the WanderB can undertake various missions, with its small size and stealth attributes ensuring discretion and flexibility. The exact purposes of these UAVs have not been revealed by Morocco; however, experts predict their utilization in intelligence gathering and border surveillance.

Diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel, normalized in December 2020 under the United States-facilitated Abraham Accords, have led to an accelerated partnership, notably in military cooperation. In a significant move, Major General El Farouk Belkhir, the Inspector General of the Moroccan Armed Forces, visited Israel in September 2022. During this visit, he attended an international conference on military innovation and met with Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. The visit resulted in an agreement to form a joint military committee, with the goal of advancing cooperation in technology, innovation, and other areas.

Although unconfirmed officially, reports indicate the arms deal between Morocco and Israel involves the sale of UAVs, missile defense systems, upgrades to Moroccan fighter jets using Israeli technology, a technology transfer for local UAV production, and possible development of F-5 fighter aircraft.

In addition to the arms deal, the two countries have participated in joint military exercises. In June 2022, Israel joined the “African Lion” military exercises in Morocco for the first time. Co-hosted annually by Morocco and the United States, these exercises are the largest of their kind in Africa.

Morocco has also shown interest in pursuing joint defense industry projects with Israel. Abdellatif Loudiyi, the Minister Delegate for National Defense Administration, held a meeting with Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to explore potential partnerships in the defense sector. This marked the first official visit of an Israeli chief of staff to Morocco.

Since the renewal of diplomatic ties in 2020, Morocco and Israel have deepened their military cooperation, marked by reciprocal visits by military officials and multiple memoranda of understanding. Although specifics of the arms deal remain undisclosed, this move signifies a major step forward in the defense and security of Morocco.