Bahrain has become the first country to procure the latest version of the F-16 fighter jet following an agreement with the US Government in late 2017.
The announcement follows a contract award to Lockheed Martin Corp from the US Government to produce 16 new F-16 Block 70 aircraft for the Royal Bahraini Air Force.
The award is the inaugural F-16 production program for Lockheed Martin since efforts began more than a year ago to move the F-16 production line to Greenville, South Carolina.
This production line relocation enables expanded F-35 production capacity in Fort Worth, Texas, the traditional home of the F-16.
“We value our long-standing relationship with the Kingdom of Bahrain and look forward to beginning production activities on their Block 70 aircraft,” said Robert Harward, Lockheed Martin’s chief executive for the Middle East.
The F-16 Block 70 features advanced avionics and sensors including a proven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modernised cockpit, advanced weaponry, conformal fuel tanks, an automatic ground collision avoidance system, an advanced engine and extended structural service life of 12,000 hours.
To date, 4,604 F-16s have been procured by 28 customers around the world. Approximately 3,000 operational F-16s are flying today with 25 air forces.