Royal Moroccan Air Force C-130 transport planes land in Israel

July 04, 2021

By Anna Ahronheim

A Royal Moroccan Air Force C-130 landed at the IAF’s Hatzor air base in the South on Sunday, marking the first time an air-force platform belonging to the North African country landed in Israel.

The plane flew to Israel ahead of an international drill set to take part in the South with the US this week.

The plane was spotted by aviation followers on Sunday morning.

While the IDF would not comment on “collaborations with a specific country,” the military told The Jerusalem Post: “The IDF cooperates with a variety of foreign countries and armies and conducts exercises, senior meetings, joint research and more.”

The IAF takes part in several international drills each year to prepare for a wide range of scenarios and to strengthen professional ties and operational knowledge. The IAF took part in two international drills in June, including deploying F-35s to bases abroad for the large-scale Falcon Strike in Italy.

Meanwhile, Morocco just concluded the large-scale 17th annual African Lion drill with the participation of the US, Brazil, Canada, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Senegal and Tunisia. Military observers from 30 countries were also present.

According to Moroccan media reports, 7,000 participants took part in training to respond to terrorism, chemical attacks and cyberwarfare during US Africa Command’s premier joint annual exercise.

“African Lion 21 is a multi-domain, multi-component, and multi-national exercise, which will employ a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among partner nations and enhance the ability to operate in the African theater of operations,” USACOM said in a statement.

Israel and Morocco have had close economic, diplomatic and military ties for years, and they signed a normalization agreement in December. Military ties between Israel and Morocco primarily involve intelligence cooperation and trade in arms, Haaretz reported.

In January 2020, the Moroccan army received three Israeli reconnaissance drones in a deal worth some $48 million. The deal between the two countries was signed in 2014 and closed via the French company Dassault.

France has been operating the Heron drone 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. According to a report in Intelligence Online, the drones will be deployed to counter extremist groups and fight rebel movements in the Western Sahara.

The drones, which can stay airborne for more than 50 hours, have reportedly been fitted with a device for carrying three surveillance cameras, a video recording system, an air-ground communication system and electro-optical systems for day-night vision.

According to another report, Israel sold Morocco other military systems, including military communications and control systems, such as radar systems for fighter jets, via a third party.


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