Morocco’s armed forces received first batch of Sherpa armoured vehicles and VL MICA air defence systems from France following contracts signed some two years ago.
The first batch of Sherpa vehicles had arrived in Morocco and were seen being transported to military bases in the North African country. In 2020 it was reported that Morocco had ordered 36 Sherpa armoured vehicles from France’s Arquus, in Light Scout and Light Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) models. Both versions ( Light Scout and Light APC) will be used mostly by the Moroccan Special Forces
The Sherpa was launched in 2006 and is produced in four variants: the Sherpa Scout seating four to five soldiers, Carrier (with a flat bed at the rear), APC for troop transport and Sherpa Special Forces. Over 1 000 Sherpas have been built for entities like NATO (the International Security Assistance Forces have used the vehicle in Afghanistan) and countries such as Chile, Kuwait, Lebanon and Indonesia. An Assault Ladder version has been acquired by India, Brazil and France for police/security missions.
The Sherpa has a gross vehicle mass of 11 tons with a 3.3 ton payload. It is air transportable in C-130 and A400M aircraft. With engines up to 265 hp, it has a maximum road speed of 110 km/h and range of 1 000 km. The vehicle can be fitted with a manual turret or remotely operated weapon station armed with a machine gun up to 12.7 mm.
The Sherpa APC version can carry up to ten people including driver and commander and is available with two or four side doors. Various armour options are available for landmine and ballistic protection.
According to reports from Morocco, the first two VL MICA short range air defence batteries arrived in recent weeks after being ordered in 2020 at a cost of 192 million euros. It is understood that four batteries are being acquired from MBDA.
The VL MICA system comprises of a series of truck-mounted elements, including a tactical operations centre, Sagem SIGMA 30 radar, and launcher vehicles that can carry between three and six multi-round launchers with the missiles in clusters of four rounds. The MICA fire-and-forget missile, capable of being fitted with either a heat-seeking homing head or with an active radar seeker head, has an interception range of up to 20 km.
Vertical Launch MICA (VL MICA) is a short range, ground based air defence system deploying the MICA fire-and-forget missile, currently the only missile in the world capable of being fitted with either a heatseeking homing head (VL MICA IR) or with an active radar (VL MICA RF). This unique capability ensures an outstanding kill probability, even in severe IRCM-ECM environments.
Morocco has also ordered 40 Caesar 155 mm artillery systems for 170 million euros and ammunition worth 30 million euros from Nexter.
France and Morocco enjoy close economic and defence ties – between 2008 and 2018, France sold Morocco some 1.8 billion euros worth of military equipment, including two satellites. Morocco acquired three Harfang (Heron) unmanned aerial vehicles from France in January 2020 and in March 2021 ordered 300 VLRA-2 4×4 light tactical military vehicles from Arquus to strengthen the firepower and mobility of its special forces units.