France OK’s Transfer Of UAE’s 30 Mirage 2000-9 Fighters To Morocco After Years Of Negotiations – Reports

After years of diplomatic negotiation, France has reportedly authorized the transfer of 30 Mirage 2000-9 aircraft from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Morocco. 

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The transfer of the Mirages, first reported by the Moroccan publication As-Sahifa and subsequently confirmed by sources to the Spanish media outlet La Razón, comes after a lengthy three-year suspension. 

The initial hurdle to the transfer stemmed from a sales contract inked between Abu Dhabi and Paris in 1998. The contract stipulated that any transfer of these aircraft to a third party would necessitate French approval, aligning with regulations set forth by the manufacturing country. 

Reports suggested that French reluctance to greenlight the transfer was linked to internal discussions about repurchasing the Emirati Mirage 2000-9 aircraft and redirecting them to support Ukraine in its conflict against Russia. 

However, the UAE expressed a preference to divest a portion of its Mirage 2000-9 fleet, with 30 destined for Morocco and some for Egypt. 

Ultimately, the approval for the transfer to Morocco was granted following discussions between the Moroccan and French foreign affairs ministers. 

The Mirage 2000-9 in question is a multirole single-seat fighter and was originally developed for the UAE as a variant of the Mirage 2000-5 interceptor. Equipped with advanced systems and a central computer similar to the Rafale, it is capable of carrying out both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. 

The latest decision underscores the broader military cooperation between France and the UAE. This includes the latter’s recent acquisition of 80 Dassault Rafale fighter jets on December 3, 2021. 

The UAE’s transition to the Rafale F4s will see the retirement of its Mirage 2000-9 fleet in the coming decade. While the authorization marks a significant milestone, no official confirmation has been issued regarding the transfer to Morocco. 

EurAsian Times reached out to the French Ministry of Defense for comment but has yet to receive a response. 

Nonetheless, the green light for the transfer not only solidifies military ties between France, the UAE, and Morocco but also reflects the strategic dynamics of defense procurement and cooperation in the region. 

File Image: Mirage 2000-9

Mirage 2000-9 for Morocco Air Force

Morocco is poised to enhance its aerial prowess with discussions underway for the acquisition of modernized Mirage 2000-9 aircraft from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

If finalized, this deal could represent a significant leap in Morocco’s air force modernization efforts, offering an interim solution until the country transitions to fifth-generation fighters like the F-35.

The Mirage 2000-9s in question, part of a batch ordered by the UAE in 1998, are far from ordinary. Of the 62 aircraft ordered, 32 were delivered as brand-new units, while the remaining 30 underwent extensive retrofitting to match the advanced standard of the new planes. 

Further, in November 2019, Dassault signed a contract to enhance this fleet. Thales was also awarded a contract for life-extension measures, potentially including cutting-edge systems like the Thales RDY-3 radar and the Talios advanced targeting pod.

This modernization effort ensured that any potential recipient of these Mirage 2000-9s would acquire aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art systems and weaponry capable of meeting the demands of modern aerial warfare. 

With expected operational lifespans extending into the 2030s, these aircraft remain a formidable asset for any air force. For Morocco, with its history of refurbishing and upgrading older fighters, the acquisition of these Mirage 2000-9s presents a major opportunity to bolster its aerial capabilities. 

File Image: Mirage-2000

However, the limitations posed by power and internal space restrict the extent to which the Mirage 2000 platform can be upgraded, especially when compared to larger aircraft like the Rafale. 

The UAE Air Force, incidentally, has a track record of operating some of the most extensively modernized versions of fourth-generation fast jets and ensuring their excellent condition.

Morocco’s air force, which presently operates French Mirage F-1s and upgraded US F-5 Tigers, in addition to a modest fleet of advanced F-16 Block 52+ jets, could experience substantial gains with the incorporation of these advanced Mirage aircraft. 

Also, the Royal Moroccan Air Force has ordered an extra 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighter jets, which are scheduled to join the service between late 2025 and 2027.

Should Morocco successfully proceed with the acquisition of the Mirage 2000-9s from the UAE, it could strategically replace its aging Mirage F-1s and F-5s until the eventual procurement of fifth-generation fighters.