A beautiful baby of a ton, able to observe a strip of land 800 kms wide in high resolution, that is to say 70 cm. The contract was concluded in 2013 with François Hollande’s France, in the greatest secrecy.
It cost 500 million euros and will be placed in orbit at 695 km altitude. In short, a true jewel of technology. It will be piloted directly from Morocco, from a space operations room installed near Rabat airport. But above all, Morocco becomes the third African country to have a spy satellite, after Egypt and South Africa. What will Moroccans observe? Well, that’s the problem: Morocco has two enemies and a friend too urgent. His two enemies are Algeria and Sahrawis. With this satellite, they will be able to know everything about the positions of the Algerian army and those of the Saharawi insurgents in Western Sahara. This prospect makes crazy Algeria which, until now, had a digital advantage on the ground. As for the friend too urgent, it is about Spain: and here too, the Spaniards are not at all, but then not at all reassured. Spain is the only European country still to have territories in Africa, in this case, Morocco: the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, two garrison towns in northern Morocco. But also a string of islands and rocky gables glued to the Moroccan shore. And Spain, for its part, does not have these means of observation. It has shares in the Helios French spy satellites, but not more than 2.5%. In other words, it can use 2.5% of the space-time of this satellite. But when they needed it, France was choosy. It was in 2002, on a Spanish island called Perejil occupied a few days by Morocco. Impossible to have satellite images for “technical reasons” replied the French. While Morocco, it will have its satellite 100% of the time. The Spaniards are green with rage. Before being able to have the same advantages, the Spanish army will have to wait several years. Meanwhile, the friend and Moroccan ally can spy, thanks to France, freely.