A Jordanian Air Force C-130H, very similar to the Moroccan C-130H Lost On July 26th 2011 (commons)

A Lockeed C-130H belonging to the Moroccan Air Force crashed Tuesday in the south of the country killing at least 80 people on board. According to BBC, the plane which was reported to carry 9 crew, 60 troops and 12 civilians crashed about 6 miles from Guelmim, where it was expected to land at 9:00am local time (4:00am EST). The plane was conducting a routine rotation linking air bases in Dakhla and Kinitra when it struck the Sayyert mountain after having apparently encountered some heavy fog. The crash site area is located some 520 miles south Rabat and a military investigation has been initiated. While up to 42 bodies had been recovered at mid day, Moroccan authorities decreed a 3-day national mourning for what may be the country’s deadliest air disaster. Various sources have identified the aircraft involved as C-130H registration CNA-OQ, one of 3 Moroccan C-130H known to be equipped with a Side Looking Airborne Radar system from a total of 15 C-130 acquired by the Kingdom’s Air Force since 1974. Morocco has been part of a bitter territorial dispute involving the mineral rich western Sahara region with rival Algeria located south of the crash area. While Morocco military planners have been slow to recognise Algeria growing regional might (up to 40 Mig-29 and Su-30 supported by Il-76 and Il-78 Tankers are being acquired), a recent effort to source up to 24 F-16 Block 52 from Lockheed Martin will prove significant in order to replace older Mirage F-1 and F-5.

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