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The U.S. State Department has approved the delivery of 25 M88A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System (HERCULES) armoured recovery vehicles to Morocco. Congress has yet to approve the transaction.

Part of the delivery may involve refurbished M88A1s. In addition to the recovery tanks, Morocco has asked for extensive peripheral equipment such as weapons, radios, ammunition, Driver Vision Enhancer (DVE) kits, spare parts and simulators. In addition, logistical support and assistance with the introduction of the equipment is being provided by personnel from the government or the manufacturer BAE Systems.

With the armoured recovery vehicles, Morocco intends to strengthen its own tank force for homeland defence tasks and for countering regional threats. The Moroccan armed forces’ heavy vehicles include 384 Abrams M1 A1SA and M1 A1A2S main battle tanks and 335 M109 self-propelled howitzers.

The M88A2 armoured recovery vehicle goes back to the M88, which was introduced into the U.S. Army in the 1960s. In the USA (as well as Egypt, Australia and Iraq), the M88A2 was introduced at the end of the 1990s, with performance adapted to the requirements of operation with the M1 Abrams main battle tanks. Its hallmark is the A-mast for the crane with a lifting capacity of 35 tonnes. To turn the load, the entire tank has to be turned. With a dead weight of 70 tons, the M88A2 is powered by a 783 kW diesel engine. The maximum speed is 56 km/h.

Last year, the U.S. Army commissioned BAE System to develop the M88A3 variant, which is to be tested from 2022. The armoured recovery vehicle, which will then weigh 78 tons and have an additional road wheel, will be fitted with a 1,000 kW engine and will be approved for recovery and towing of the U.S. Army’s heaviest combat vehicles.

Gerhard Heiming