UAE Mirage 2000-9 interests Morocco and Egypt

There are signs that never fail. Barely a week after the announcement made the order of 80 Rafale by the air forces of the United Arab Emirates, that the sixty 2000-9 mirage acquired in the late 90s by the country, and which must be replaced by the Rafale ordered, have already found a buyer. Indeed, according to several sources of information, it appears that Egypt, but also Morocco, would have approached Abu Dabi in order to acquire these fighter planes which still have remarkable operational potential. If the demand from Cairo is not surprising, the Egyptian air forces are already implementing around twenty Mirage 2000s, and therefore having the skills and infrastructure to implement the new aircraft, which are moreover much more modern than those at their disposal. today, it is quite different for Rabat, which has never owned this model of combat aircraft.

According to the information available, the United Arab Emirates would consider "loaning", or possibly leasing, 34 Mirage-2000-9 to the Moroccan air forces, to support the fifty or so F-16s and the thirty or so modernized mirage F1s currently in service, in a particularly tense context both at the Algerian border to the east and in Western Sahara to the south. The arrival of the 34 Emirati fighters would allow Rabat to balance the balance of power with its Algerian neighbor, which has, among other things, around fifty Mig-29s and around sixty Su-30s, as well as 13 Mig-25, and which would have ordered new modern fighter-bombers such as the Su-34 from Moscow. The fact remains that the "loan" of devices as complex and efficient as the Mirage 2000-9 cannot be imagined without an important component of training and logistics, especially since Rabat does not have to date the means to maintain a fleet, and that the arrival of a new aircraft of this type is generally accompanied by a significant support system. We can therefore assume that beyond the aircraft themselves, Abu Dabi intends to get involved in the defense of the Moroccan kingdom against Algeria, which will not go without creating certain tensions.

The Moroccan air force relies mainly on the fifty F-16s acquired from the United States, an insufficient force compared to Algerian air power if necessary.

We can also assume that this loan is made with the consent of Paris, and may be its support, with the aim of strengthening the sometimes distended links between France and the Moroccan Kingdom. As such, the announcement of the possible acquisition by the Moroccan air forces ofa dozen French H225M Caracal transport helicopters may appear as a sign going in this direction, without France appearing to be openly intervening alongside its ally in North Africa. If the announcement is confirmed, the Moroccan Armies will then have extensive air-mobile maneuvering capabilities, thanks in particular to the extension of the Caracal much greater than that of the Puma currently in service.

The fact remains that these two announcements tend to demonstrate the certain appetite of the market for a powerful and economical device, such as the Mirage 2000, but also the F-16. Regarding the latter, it was the Romanian authorities who last week sent a request for information to Oslo with a view to acquiring some thirty second-hand F-16s from the Royal Norwegian Air Forces, the latter withdrawing them from service for the replace with F-35A. In these cases, it is as much the attractive price of second-hand planes as the ability to take possession of the aircraft quickly that seems decisive, as was also the case in the Rafale case in Greece. It therefore seems relevant, for France, to take these parameters into consideration in order to be opportunistic on the international market, especially since, as shown by Rafale customers who had previously 80% of the Mirage 2000, the anteriority in this area is a critical factor.

The arrival of Caracal within the Moroccan air forces would considerably strengthen the air combat capabilities of the Moroccan armies

In fact, rather than undermining the operational capacities of the Armies by taking second-hand devices from their already small fleet to gain access to international markets, it could be relevant to implement a "buffer" making it possible to compensate by anticipation of the release of equipment sold on the secondary market, while being particularly incisive commercially on the international scene. This approach, already developed in this article, would prove efficient for the defense industry as well as for the armed forces, but also in the field of international relations, without requiring any particular budgetary effort, depending on the way in which the offer is articulated. Thus implemented, an extended offer based on second-hand Rafale could constitute an alternative to the absence of light and economical fighters, at least for a time, in the catalog of French manufacturers.

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