According to reports from Ukrainian state media, Morocco will become the first African country to send military aid to Ukraine.
Morocco agreed to donate modernized Czech T-72 tanks to Ukraine. In the context of the severe shortage of weapons and spare parts and the fact that NATO countries have not yet supplied Western tanks to Ukraine, the aid from Morocco will be especially important.
The Moroccan army has a large tank inventory, including 136 T-72Bs and 12 T-72BKs purchased from Belarus between 1999 and 2001. In addition, the country also owns 384 M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams, as well as 150 Pakistani VT-1A Al Khalid tank. There are also hundreds of American M48 and M60 Patton tanks, as well as 116 Austrian SK-105 tanks in reserve. T-72Bs donated to Ukraine will be modernized by the Czech military company Excalibur. Morocco’s decision was made at the request of the US through secret negotiations with Rabat.
The T-72B is an improved version of the T-72A which entered into service with the Soviet army in 1986. The turret of the T-72B has a new armor package that provides a much higher degree of protection than any previous model of the T-72 MBT. In addition, the glacis plate is provided with 20 mm of appliqué armor.
The main armament of the T-72B consists of one 125 mm 2A46M gun coupled to an automatic loading system with 22 125mm ammunition stored in the carousel automatic loader and 23 stowed in the turret and hull. The main gun can fire a wide range of 125mm ammunition as well as the 9M119 AT-11 `Svir’ laser beam-riding anti-tank missile at a maximum firing range of 5,000 m.
According to armyrecognition, the upgrade package for the Moroccan T-72B will be equipped with a new Explosive Reactive Armor package mounted on the front and sides of the hull. The turret of the upgraded T-72B is also fitted with an ERA type of armor package mounted on each side at the front of the turret. The armament of the upgraded T-72B is retained, including a 125 mm 2A46M smoothbore main gun, a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and a 12.7 mm NSV heavy machine gun mounted on the commander’s cupola. There are six smoke grenade launchers on each side of the turret.
When conflict broke out in Ukraine, Morocco initially tried to maintain a neutral stance. Rabat has close trade relations with Moscow, which is Russia’s largest trading partner in Africa. However, this position has changed over time, while Washington has continuously pressured Rabat to take a stronger stance.