Moroccan Air Force F-5 fighters to get Elbit Systems Delilah cruise missiles

Morocco is seeking to purchase Israeli cruise missiles Delilah to enhance further its multi-layered defense capabilities, according to Defensa magazine echoed by the North Africa Post. The North African Kingdom has opened negotiations with Israeli Elbit Systems to get the Delilah missiles to arm its F-5 jets to upgrade these U.S.-made light fighters with advanced sensor systems and jamming systems, data links and a set of modern air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons.

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Moroccan Air Force F 5 fighters to get Elbit Systems Delilah cruise missiles 2 Delilah cruise missile (Picture source: Elbit Systems)

The Delilah series of air-to-surface advanced loitering stand-off (S/O) missiles offers operational capabilities for long-range search, acquisition and precision attack of high-value moving, stationary or re-locatable targets. Delilah supports content target acquisition and high lethality with minimal collateral damage. With multi-waypoints autonomous navigation and guidance, advanced avionics, and a turbo-jet engine for long-range missions, the advanced attack missile features high maneuverability with cruise, loiter, attack and “go around” capabilities. Delilah HL is the helicopter-launched version of the combat-proven Delilah missile.

The missile features an advanced electro-optical (E/O) seeker for day/night and all-weather target discrimination, a cruise speed of Mach 0.5 to 0.7 and a maximum range of 250 km. Delilah and Delilah HL offer a preprogrammed mission with post-launch updates, and Man-in-the-Loop overrides capability for target selection and final attack approval that enables real-time, in-light target-of-opportunity designation for target acquisition and attack (re-attack), and battle damage assessment (BDA).

Moroccan Air Force F 5 fighters to get Elbit Systems Delilah cruise missiles 1 Royal Moroccan Air Force F-5 (Picture source: Wikipedia/Rocco DeFilippis, U.S. Marine Corps)

After the loss of nine F-5As during combat operations against the Polisario, 16 F-5Es and 4 F-5Fs were acquired in October 1979. The main problem that faced Moroccan fighter-bombers in Western Sahara was their insufficient range over the vast battlefield of the Sahara desert. To address it, in 1982, a Boeing 707-138B was fitted with Beech hose units at the wingtips for refueling. Two Lockheed KC-130Hs were also delivered, and all of the F-5Es were modified with aerial refueling probes.

Improvements to Moroccan Air Force's F-5A/Bs were realized with the installation of "Tiger II" avionics on, probably, 8 F-5A and 2 F-5B. A contract was stipulated with the French company SOGERMA at Bordeaux; all aircraft were received by 1998. From 2001 to 2004 the RMAF's F-5E/F received a full refurbishment and upgrade from SOGERMA. The upgrade improved the performance of the "Tiger II" to the level of the "Tiger III". The work carried up included:
* new FIAR Grifo F/X Plus improved radar (similar in performance to the AN/APG-69)
* Elettronica ELT/555 active Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) pods.
* HOTAS (Hands-On Throttle And Stick)
* New EWPS/-100 (DM/A-106) RWR
* Cockpit Layout with new:
- head-up display
- Weapons Delivery and Navigation System MFD/WDNS
- Multifunction displays
The F-5E/F TIII acquired the capability to use new weapon systems such as Beyond Visual Range missiles and precise-guided weapons. RADA ACE ground debriefing station, a Simulator, and AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening targeting pods have also been purchased.

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