The Moroccan army has received three Israeli reconnaissance drones in a deal worth some $48 million.
According to the French website Intelligence Online, the Moroccan military received three Heron drones built by Israel Aerospace Industries on January 26th.
The deal between the two countries was signed in 2014 and closed via the French company Dassault.
France has been operating the Heron under the name Harfang and according to reports in 2014, the drones acquired by Morocco were retired by the French Air Force after several years in service in Afghanistan.
The drones have reportedly been fitted with a device for carrying three surveillance cameras, video recording system, an air-ground communication system as well as electro-optical systems for day-night vision.
While Morocco and Israel don’t have any official diplomatic ties, the two countries are reported to have a long history of military and intelligence cooperation.
The Heron 1 is a medium altitude and long-term endurance (MALE) craft with a maximum mission endurance of over 24 hours. Equipped with satellite datalink and electro-optical infrared sensors, the Heron 1 is able to not only provide reconnaissance to ground forces in combat situations, assist in convoying and patrolling, create movement profiles and long-term monitoring, but it is able to track down explosives from the air.
According to the report in Intelligence Online, the drones will be deployed to counter extremist groups and fight rebel movements in the Western Sahara.
Foreign reports state that Israel is considered a leading exporter of drones and IAI has over 50 operational customers around the globe, including Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea.