Aero Maroc Maintenance, the story of the first-born of the Moroccan defense industry

The Joint Venture (JV) between Morocco, the Belgian group Blueberry and the American group Lockheed Martin It has just given rise to the first private investment operation in the military industry sector in the era of the new legislative framework established for this purpose.

The will of Sabca and Sabena Aerospace, united in the Blueberry group from 2020to invest in the maintenance, repair and upgrade (MRO&U) of military aircraft was expressed since 2018through a memorandum of understanding.

At that time, the two companies mainly targeted the famous military transport aircraft. C-130 Hercules which has been the subject of an authorization granted by Lockheed to Sabena to provide maintenance services since 1977. However, they had already planned in a second phase to attack the F-16, Alphajet, Mirage F1 and Agusta A-109.

A year later, Sabena Aerospace Engineering created a limited company called Sabena Aerospace. Immediately after, he changed his name to become Aero Morocco Maintenance (MAM). Since then it has remained inactive, except that in 2021 it changed its leader. Today, its chief executive officer and chairman of the board is Vincent Francis Daniel Monborgne and director Gautier Hucorne.

Sabca, now part of the Blueberry group, is present for its part in Morocco since 2012 through its subsidiary Sabca Maroc, which produces assemblies for Airbus and Dassault Aviation aircraft. He was also responsible for the modernization of the Royal Air Forces (FRA) Mirage F1 and Alphajet fleets.

In August 2021, Sabca Maroc and Pilatus Aircraft signed a contract so that the aerostructure of the business jet Pilatus PC-12 well assembled in Casablanca by Sabca Maroc. This is an investment of 180 million dirhams for the construction of a new 16,000 m2 factory in Nouaceur, which will ensure the assembly of the fuselage, wings and flight controls, including the electrical installation of the ‘aircraft’ wiring.

After the announcement this week of this tripartite joint venture, it is not yet clear to what extent the Moroccan State and/or Lockheed Martin will enter the capital of MAM. In any case, the management of this JV remains the responsibility of the Blueberry group.

A first after the entry into force of the new legislative framework relating to the defense industry

Contacted by Médias24, Abdelhamid Harifi, a military expert, believes for his part that the investment will be taken by Morocco and Lockheed Martin, while the Belgians could only ensure management without appearing in the capital for political reasons.

In addition, he recounts the multiple advantages of this investment, which he considers the first of its kind under the new law that governs the defense industry in Morocco.

It is true that Sabca already proceeded in 2006 with the local update of the Moroccan Mirages F1 and Alphajet, but it was a temporary operation that takes place in the Meknes FRA. On the other hand, this JV marks the desire to have a permanent structurewhich involves even more private capital in the Moroccan military industry, he explains.

Thus, this maintenance center will be dedicated to F-16 and C-130 aircraft, as well as other helicopters of American origin, he says. Currently, they are maintained locally with the FRA or with the air forces of friendly countries.

On the other hand, this JV confirms that the modernization process of the F-16s currently in service with the FRA will be done locally, as previously announced. Is about sophisticated technologiesin particular the installation of new weapons systems, new electronic systems and the modernization of motorization.

In fact, the importance of such an association also lies in the aspect related to the technology transfer which will allow Morocco to gradually build the foundations of a local defense industry. It is also an opportunity to strengthen human capital in this area through a transfer of skills.

Another interest in this investment is maintain a high level of readiness of the Moroccan military aviation, because the curse of any air force is to have aircraft on the ground or in maintenance abroad. It is important for an air force to be able to mobilize its planes as quickly as possible.

Having this type of facility in Morocco will certainly give Morocco more control over the mobilization capacity of its aircraft. Today, Morocco has about twenty C-130s, for maintenance, they are spread over several countries between Morocco, Jordan, France and Romania.

This new unit will also serve as maintenance center in the regionin particular for the C-130s held by Tunisia and several other African countries.

Abdelhamid Harifi also thinks that part of this evolution prerequisites for building a military industrial platform in the longer term. The latter will also benefit from the civil aeronautics and automotive ecosystems that Morocco has developed in the last two decades.

Leave a Comment