Recent reports indicate that both Morocco and Algeria are strengthening their unmanned aircraft systems capabilities amid growing bilateral tensions and repeated Polisario Front harassment of Moroccan positions in the Western Sahara. In mid-September, Morocco obtained an initial delivery of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles that were purchased earlier this year, as first reported in the accompanying excerpt from the Facebook page of FAR-Maroc, a discussion forum dedicated to news about Morocco’s armed forces. Algeria, meanwhile, is awaiting delivery of the first batch in an order of 24 Chinese Wing Loong IIs before the end of the year, according to news first reported by an Algeria-focused French language military news website called Mena Defense.
The accompanying excerpt from the pan-Arab daily al-Quds foresees the possibility of the Morocco-Algeria desert border becoming akin to the India-Pakistan border, with military deployments and occasional skirmishes but mutual aversion to a large-scale war. UASs are ideally suited for this expansive desert terrain, and both Morocco and Algeria seem likely to continue developing their UAS capabilities beyond the existing purchase contracts mentioned above. Particularly noteworthy in this regard is a recent scoop in the French news website Africa Intelligence, claiming that Morocco and Israel will soon begin collaborating on the production of “kamikaze drones.” Such a development would likely fuel Algerian efforts to develop or acquire additional UAS and counter-UAS technology, likely through either China or Russia, which are its main sources of advanced weaponry.
(See: “Algeria Seeks More Active Regional Military Role, with Russian Assistance,” OE Watch, July 2021 and “Increased Algerian Focus on ‘New Generation Warfare’,” OE Watch, April 2021).
…International observers have warned of the possibility of military skirmishes between Morocco and Algeria along the border…
Source: FAR-Maroc Facebook Page (discussion forum dedicated to news about Morocco’s armed forces), 17 September 2021. https://www.facebook.com/farmarocofficielle/photos/a.1543183805906600/3098761597015472
As part of the completion of the TB2 BAYRAKTAR Turkish combat drones deal, the Far-Maroc Forum learned from sources in Turkey that the delivery of the first drones began today, via transport aircraft flights of the Royal Air Force. The Kingdom had signed a contract to obtain 13 drones, in order to enhance its combat capabilities of unmanned aircraft… The Moroccan military crews completed their training in Turkey a few weeks ago within the framework of the same contract, provided that the delivery process continues within the specified deadlines. Given the development that the battlefields have witnessed today and in light of the experience of Karabakh, Syria and others, there are still other steps that will be taken in the near future to enhance the Kingdom’s capabilities in this regard, with UAVs at the highest levels of technological development.
Source: “L’Algérie va renforcer sa flotte de drones (Algeria to reinforce its drone fleet),” Mena Defense (Algeria-focused French-language military news website), 23 September 2021. https://www.menadefense.net/algerie/lalgerie-va-renforcer-sa-flotte-de-drones/
The Algerian air force, which already deploys six types of drones (four of which are attack drones), has reportedly ordered 24 Wing Loong II fighter planes from China’s AVIC. Deliveries are expected to start at the end of this year and end in 2022. Wing Loong II has proven itself in many theaters of operations, such as Egypt and Yemen.
Source: (Sahrawi Army launches new attacks on positions of Moroccan occupation soldiers),” Algeria Presse Service – APS (Algeria’s national news agency), 13 October 2021. https://www.aps.dz/ar/monde/113914-2021-10-13-08-33-12
Units of the Sahrawi People’s Liberation Army launched new attacks on the Moroccan occupation forces in the Awsard, Farsiya and Mahbas sectors, according to military statement No. 335 issued by the Sahrawi Ministry of Defense. The statement, which was reported by the Saharawi Press Agency (SPA), said that “the Sahrawi army forces twice targeted the positions and trenches of the Moroccan occupation forces in the Qalb Al-Nass area in the Awsard sector. They also bombed the enemy’s trenches in the Ben Amira area in the Farsiya sector twice”… The attacks of the Sahrawi army continue targeting Moroccan occupation forces, which have incurred heavy losses in lives and equipment along the berm (the wall of humiliation and shame), since Morocco violated the ceasefire agreement on November 13, 2020, signed between the two parties (Morocco and the Polisario Front) in 1991.
Source: “Situation Concerning Western Sahara,” United Nations Security Council, October 2021. (https://minurso.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/unsg_report_october_2021.pdf)
Source: (Algeria does not rule out escalation against Morocco amidst news of military tensions along the border),” al-Quds (pan-Arab daily), 24 September 2021. https://tinyurl.com/598yd7y3
International observers have warned of the possibility of military skirmishes between Morocco and Algeria along the border, as there are areas claimed by Algeria and inhabited by Moroccans for decades. Observers believe relations between the two countries are likely to transform into something resembling those between Pakistan and India, which witness an exchange of fire from time to time, without entering into a real war.
Source: “Tel Aviv may help Rabat build kamikaze drone sector,” Africa Intelligence (French news website), 15 September 2021. https://www.africaintelligence.com/north-africa_business/2021/09/15/tel-aviv-may-help-rabat-build-kamikaze-drone-sector,109691309-gra
The latest step in Rabat’s breathless rapprochement with Israel’s defence industry is Morocco’s plan to set up a domestic sector to develop suicide drones, devices that are relatively easy to build and have devastating consequences.