Morocco and Algeria Strengthen UAV Capabilities With Imports From China, Turkey, and Israel

TAI Aksungur at Teknofest 2019.

TAI Aksungur at Teknofest 2019.

“Morocco issued a warning to Iran, which is accused of militarily supporting separatist and terrorist groups

Over the past year, both Algeria and Morocco have bolstered their unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities by importing technology from China, Turkey and—in the case of Morocco—Israel.[i] As detailed in the first excerpted article, in October 2022, the Spanish news website OkDiario reported on a video showing a Chinese Wing Loong II UAV flying over Morocco, seemingly confirming that Morocco had acquired several of these platforms after expressing interest in them earlier this year. Also in October, as detailed in the second excerpted article, the independent Algeria-focused military news website Menadefense reported that Algeria, which has a Wing Loong II fleet of its own, had become the first export client for the Turkish TAI Aksungur long-range UAV, after signing a deal to acquire six units.

While China and Turkey appear willing to sell technology and deepen security cooperation with both Morocco and Algeria, Israeli-Moroccan cooperation has likely geopolitical implications given fears of Iranian and Russian meddling in the region.[ii] As shown in the third excerpted article, in September the Moroccan English-language news website Morocco World News reported that Morocco had acquired at least 150 small vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft from the Israeli firm BlueBird Aero Systems. The deal includes both the small WanderB model and a larger ThunderB model, as well as an agreement to build two UAV manufacturing plants in Morocco, the first of their kind. In the fourth excerpted article, in early October, as reported by the Moroccan news website Le360, an official from the Polisario Front, the Western Sahara independence movement that is supported by Algeria and opposed by Morocco, claimed that Sahrawi fighters would soon begin employing armed UAVs against Moroccan forces. These remarks prompted Morocco’s Foreign Minister to equate Polisario with Yemen’s Houthi Movement, accusing Iran of arming Polisario with Algerian complicity. Indeed, Moroccan accusations of Iranian support for Polisario are not new, as explained in the fifth article from the Qatari-aligned al-Araby al-Jadeed. While the accusations may have seemed fanciful four years ago, they seem less so now, given Israel’s quickly growing security footprint in Morocco and the fact that Algeria’s key security partner—Russia—is itself relying on Iranian military support in Ukraine.


Pelayo Barro. “Marruecos compra los drones militares chinos más modernos mientras España le regala 4×4 (Morocco buys the most advanced Chinese drones while Spain gifts it 4x4s),” OkDiario (Spanish news website), 2 October 2022.×4-9739842

The latest [Moroccan] acquisition has not been ignored by Spain’s military intelligence: new-generation strategic Chinese drones with air-ground attack capabilities and endurance of over 7,000 kilometers… Mohammed VI’s armed forces had previously eyed these drones – called Wing Loong II – and had even proposed acquiring them to replace a previous Chinese drone they had already employed in their war against the Polisario Front.

“L’Algérie achète des drones d’attaque Aksungur (Algeria purchases Aksungur attack drones),” Menadefense (independent Algeria-focused military news website), 7 October 2022.

The Algerian Air Force has ordered six Turkish MALE drones from TAI. They are the Aksungur, a larger, more modern, and better performing version than its Anka-S counterpart.

Aya Benazizi. “Morocco Purchases 150 Israeli Military Drones,” Morocco World News (Moroccan English-language news website), 22 September 2022.

Morocco has purchased 150 military drones of the WanderB and ThunderB types, manufactured by Israel’s BlueBird Aero Systems, a company specialized in designing and developing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) equipment…

The agreement concerned the construction of industrial units in Morocco for the manufacture of Israeli drones.

البوليساريو تعلن أن الجزائر ستمدها بطائرات “درون” إيرانية لمهاجمة المغرب

Mohammed Ould Boah. “Polisario announces that Algiera will provide it with Iranian drones to attack Morocco,” Le360 (Moroccan news website), 4 October 2022.

According to the so-called “interior minister” of the Polisario, the separatists have obtained military drones, which they will use in their attacks against Moroccan territory. In the face of this dangerous escalation, Morocco issued a warning to Iran, which is accused of militarily supporting separatist and terrorist groups.

إيران والمغرب: تشيّع وصواريخ ودرونز

Abdelhamid Ajmahiri. “Iran and Morocco: Shiization, missiles and drones,” al-Araby al-Jadeed (Qatari-aligned daily), 11 October 2022. Almost four years after accusing Tehran of handing the separatist Polisario Front advanced weapons – especially Strela surface-to-air missiles – last week Rabat accused Tehran of providing Polisario with drones… It is clear that relations between Rabat and Tehran have entered a bleak zone, now that the [Western Sahara] conflict has been resolved in favor of Moroccan national unity.


[i] See: Lucas Winter, “Morocco and Algeria Bolstering Their Drone Fleets as Bilateral Tensions Rise,” OE Watch, Issue 11, 2021; Lucas Winter, “Morocco Denys Conducting Drone Strike Against Algerian Targets in Western Sahara,” OE Watch, Issue 12, 2021; Lucas Winter, “China Arming Algeria To Fight Its ‘New Generation Wars’,” OE Watch, Issue 8, 2022. 

[ii] See: Lucas Winter, “Algeria Sees Threat from Morocco as Western Sahara Conflict Threatens To Reignite,” OE Watch, Issue 6, 2022; Lucas Winter, “Algeria Likely To Deepen Military Ties with Russia as Morocco–Israel Security Cooperation Expands,” OE Watch, Issue 9, 2022.

Image Information:

Image: TAI Aksungur at Teknofest 2019
Source: CeeGee (own work),
Attribution: CC 4.0

China Develops World’s First Small Modular Reactor

The project (Linglong No. 1) is the world’s first onshore commercial small modular reactor and demonstrates that my country is at the forefront of small modular reactor technology…. Another beautiful business card for Chinese-made original technology.”

China recently developed the world’s first small modular reactor (SMR), which could have military, economic, and geopolitical implications.  Chinese-language multimedia website Běijīng zhōngguó hédiàn wǎng (Beijing China Nuclear Power Grid) is touting the “Linglong No. 1,” also known as ACP-100, as a milestone technology that can make China the leader in developing small reactors.  The Linglong No. 1 is a multi-purpose pressurized water reactor.  Its single module and standardized design are expected to make mass producing them less costly.  Furthermore, the unique modular design technology will allow them to be built in a factory and installed elsewhere.

The article also explains that the idea of a SMR jumped in popularity following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.  Since then, China had been competing with the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and other countries to develop the first one.  According to the article, the Linglong No. 1’s high safety standards are one of its most prominent features.  In the event of an accident, the core heat dissipates through passive means, such as gravity and natural circulation, to achieve long-term cooling.  According to the article, the Linglong No. 1 also offers a cleaner energy option.  It can generate 125,000 kilowatts, with an annual capacity of 1 billion kilowatts, which is enough to meet the power needs of 526,000 households.  Each Linglong No. 1 is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 880,000 tons per year, which is the equivalent to planting 7.5 million trees.

While the article does not talk specifically about the military, it notes that the Linglong No. 1’s smaller power and volume size make it suitable for more diverse applications, such as use on remote islands and reefs to provide desalination of seawater, heat, electricity, and steam production.  This would make it an ideal source of energy for those atolls and reefs in the South China Sea and other remote areas China has been building up since early 2014.  Finally, the article describes the Linglong No. 1 as a “double dragon” for the China National Nuclear Corporation, the owner and operator of the project, to compete in overseas markets, as part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.  It concludes that the safe and intelligent design of the small modular reactor will likely promote the country’s technological leadership in the field of nuclear energy, “becoming another beautiful business card for Chinese-made original technology.”


“核能领域的“移动充电宝”——记全球首个陆上商用模块化小堆玲龙一号研发 (Nuclear Energy Field ‘Mobile Power Bank’ – Development of the World’s First Commercial Small Modular Reactor Linglong No. 1),” Beijing China Nuclear Power Grid (Multimedia Chinese-language news website covering China’s nuclear energy sector), 26 August 2022.

After ten years, the China Nuclear Power Research and Design Institute, which has been closely following the development of nuclear energy around the world, has developed its own multi-purpose small modular pressurized water reactor, which is a major achievement in independent innovation and fills a domestic gap.

The International Atomic Energy Agency first began advocating the development of small and medium-sized reactors as early as the 1970s and 1980s. This prompted more and more countries, including the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom to compete in the development of SMRs.

When the Nuclear Power Institute began researching SMRs, their efforts were aimed at desalination, electricity production, heating, steam production, etc. They completed the conceptual scheme, safety, and economic evaluation….

Construction of a demo small modular reactor officially kicked off on 13 July 2021.  So far, the project is the world’s first onshore commercial small modular reactor and demonstrates that my country is at the forefront of small modular reactor technology.

…the Linglong No. 1 has a smaller footprint due to its small size. Smaller power and volume are suitable for more diverse applications. It can be used on both land and on offshore platforms; on remote islands and reefs, etc. to provide heat, power, cogeneration, and multi-field, multi-scenario, and multi-demand applications… providing stronger support for the development of my country’s economic growth.

At the same time, Linglong No. 1 is modular. By having a single module with a standardized design, mass producing them can be less costly.  The small modular reactor system is simple. The equipment is small, making transporting and operating them more convenient. The unique modular design technology allows them to be built in a factory and installed at a different site, which greatly shortens the construction period…

… The most prominent features of the Linglong No. 1 are the integrated design, modular construction, high inherent and passive safety features. In the event of an accident, the core heat dissipates through passive means, such as gravity and natural circulation, to achieve long-term cooling…

As clean energy, nuclear power has multiple advantages…. Linglong No. 1 can generate 125,000 kilowatts, with an annual capacity that can reach 1 billion kilowatts… It can meet the power needs of 526,000 households…. It will greatly reduce the consumption of fossil fuel-based energy in my country and promote energy conservation and reduce emissions. At the same time, each Linglong No. 1 will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 880,000 tons per year, which is equivalent to planting 7.5 million trees…Cooperation between Linglong No. 1 and my country’s mega-kilowatt independent third-generation nuclear power, the Hualong No. 1, has become a “double dragon” for China National Nuclear Corporation to compete in overseas markets and can support the country’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. It is foreseeable that the safe and intelligent design of the small modular reactor will promote my country’s technological leadership in the field of nuclear energy and take the lead, becoming another beautiful business card for Chinese-made original technology.

PLA Army Efforts Integrate New Technology and Equipment Into Units

PLA Soldiers March in Parade.

PLA Soldiers March in Parade.

“Whether it is to strengthen the training of new equipment, new forces, and new fields, or to innovate and develop training methods such as “technology +” and “network +” and others; whether it is to solve the major and difficult problems in the construction of combat effectiveness, or to improve the scientific and technological literacy of officers and soldiers, it is difficult to rely on the strength of the troops alone. Only by opening the door, accepting wisdom, borrowing a ladder and go upstairs, only by giving full play to the external knowledge of military scientific and technological experts can we transform scientific and technological advantages and equipment advantages into talent advantages and winning advantages.”

A recent PLA Daily article, whose author is affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Army Research Institute in Beijing, chronicles methods for integrating new equipment and improving the technological knowledge of troops.  This is one example of many articles that the PLA produces to help with the learning curve related to employing new, more technologically advanced equipment. The article recounts a training program that the Ministry of Defense introduced during in 2022 to help integrate new equipment into units.  Developing a new system of training is reportedly part of the effort to accelerate combat effectiveness of newly modernized units. Overall, the training methods described in the article are foundational. For example, one recommendation is to improve the scientific and technological literacy of officers and troops by sending technology experts to support unit training, which enhances the researchers’ knowledge by better understanding unit requirements.  The article also notes that military research institutes should provide classes, assist in solving problems assimilating new equipment into units, and cultivate scientific talents within units.  The author believes that an expanded program, which integrates research institutions with units, could accelerate the PLA’s modernization effort and transformation.  However, the article laments the current limited scope of cooperation between military and scientific institutions, pointing to a lack of technological expertise in active duty units and a lack of coordination between military research institutions and units.  These issues are reportedly hindering the quality of research and assimilation of new technologies and equipment into the PLA, thereby slowing the development of combat effectiveness.


“把科技专家请进演训场 (Invite technology experts to the training ground),” PLA Daily (official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army), 27 July 2022.

… The army’s training ground is the main battlefield for scientific research and innovation. The battlefield asks questions of scientific research, and scientific research answers the battlefield. The front line of military training is in urgent need of a group of military science and technology experts who really know what to do. They regard the need to win as a scientific research requirement and the problem of preparing for war as a scientific research topic, and use their own ingenuity and scientific research innovation results to serve the preparation for military struggle. At the same time, only by aiming the “sight” of scientific research at the “bull’s eye” of actual combat can military science and technology experts move from the frontier of science and technology to the frontline of the battlefield, truly set up a clear orientation of scientific research as a battle, and improve the contribution rate of scientific research innovation to the growth of combat effectiveness.

If you cannot win on the battlefield, everything equals zero. Regardless of military training or military scientific research, we should insist on focusing on war preparations and combat, comparing them with war preparations, and testing them with war preparations and wars, so that the standards of combat effectiveness can truly be established. Inviting military science and technology experts to the front line of exercises and training is not only conducive to improving the combat effectiveness of the troops, improving the fit between research and warfare, but also helping to realize the self-value of scientific and technological experts. However, due to constraints such as ideas and concepts, the scope of cooperation between the army and military scientific research institutes is limited, and the mechanism is not perfect enough. How to let more military science and technology experts go to the front line of training needs further exploration.

Image Information:

Image: PLA Soldiers March in Parade
Attribution: CC BY 4.0

China Arming Algeria To Fight Its “New Generation Wars”

Wing Loong II.

Wing Loong II.

“… For some time now, the leaders of the Algerian army have been constantly talking about the need to prepare for new forms of war, especially regarding virtual and electronic warfare, and the benefits of cybersecurity…”

Chinese weapons and technology continue to play a prominent role in meeting some of Algeria’s contemporary military needs, most notably unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  Algeria operates several advanced Chinese platforms, including Wing Loong II and CH-4 drones.  Earlier this year, several media outlets reported that Algeria had placed an order for six Chinese CH-5 combat drones.  According to the Algeria-focused, military affairs website Menadefense, in late 2021 Algeria placed an order for four Chinese WJ-700 “Falcon” UAVs.  The WJ-700 is arguably China’s most capable export platform: a high-altitude, high-speed drone similar in design and performance to the MQ-9 Reaper. 

Algeria has also invested in Chinese-manufactured counter-UAV systems.  Some of these were on display at the recent armed forces’ military parade in Algiers, held on 5 July to mark the 60th anniversary of the country’s independence from France.  The parade included a recently acquired, integrated Chinese electronic warfare (EW) system that social media observers specialized in Algerian military affairs called “a CEW-03A mobile EW system,” although it has also been referred to as a LDK-190 and CHL-906 system (see “Algeria Obtains Chinese Integrated EW Reconnaissance/Jamming System,” OE Watch, Issue 2, 2022).  The Independence Day parade also featured two self-propelled Chinese radar systems—the JY-11B array radar and a DWL-002 passive detection radar.  As noted in the accompanying excerpt from the Qatar-aligned daily al-Araby al-Jadeed, Algerian military leaders have repeatedly mentioned fighting “new generation wars” as a top priority, with EW highlighted as a principal area of focus. High-tech EW platforms were not the only type of Chinese weapons on display at Algeria’s Independence Day parade.  As noted by the military news website 21st Century Asian Arms Race, marching infantry soldiers were seen carrying old Type 56 Chinese assault rifles, which the Algerian military has been producing domestically for many years.  The juxtaposition of advanced UAVs and EW systems, on the one hand, and inexpensive, outdated assault rifles on the other, may hint at the Algerian military’s priorities.  The fact that they are all of Chinese origin serves as a reminder that the evolving Chinese-Algerian military relationship is rooted in historical ties that go back decades.  Chinese technology seems likely to play an increasingly important role in helping Algerian forces prepare for the type of wars its leaders foresee across the horizon.


“l’Algérie commande quatre drones HAL de combat à la Chine (Algeria orders four HAL combat drones from China),” MenaDefense (non-governmental website focusing on Algerian military affairs), 24 January 2022.

It turns out that Algeria is the mysterious customer who bought the Chinese high-altitude/high-speed WJ-700 combat drone.  The signing of the contract was announced on December 21, 2021.

Source: @nuwangzi, Twitter, 5 July 2022. #Algeria #EW First clear image of the CEW-03A in Algeria – A Chinese Mobile 6×6 truck EW system. 

Source: @kmldial70, Twitter, 4 July 2022. jy-11b radar, dwl 002 passive detection radar system, #Algerian #AirDefense #Algeria #AlgerianArmy #MilitaryParade.

Source: @kad_ghani, Twitter, 4 July 2022. Chinese CETC Self-Propelled JY-11B 3D Electronically Scanned Array Radar Hunter-1 makes his first appearance with the Algerian Army.


 ”حديث متوالٍ عن الحروب الجديدة لدى الجيش الجزائري

(Continuous talk about the Algerian army’s new wars),” al-Araby al-Jadeed (Qatari-aligned daily), 2 July 2022.

For some time now, the leaders of the Algerian army have been constantly talking about the need to prepare for new forms of war, especially regarding virtual and electronic warfare, and the benefits of cybersecurity.

Source: “Cheap Chinese Assault Rifles Are Made In Algeria,” 21st Century Asian Arms Race (military news website), 7 July 2022.

… during a recent military parade to mark 60 years since independence it became apparent its soldiers are issued with the most basic, even completely outdated, assault rifle supplied by China. It turns out a state-owned factory called the Mechanical Construction Establishment of Khenchela has been mass-producing Type 56 and Type 56-1 assault rifles since the 1990s.

Image Information:

Image:  Wing Loong II
Source: Photo by Mztourist,
Attribution: CC 4.0