Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: The American National Interest website considered that the Royal Bahraini Air Force will become the first operator of the most advanced and capable version of F-16 ever designed. Websites said that the $1.2 billion contract to buy fighters came to allow Bahrain keep pace with other regional competitors such Qatar.
Lockheed Martin has received a massive $1.12 billion contract from the U.S. government to produce 16 advanced F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcons for Bahrain.
The F-16 Block 70 might be the most capable fighter aircraft available to those U.S. allies.
The F-16 Block 70 can track more than 20 targets simultaneously and the radar has a range greater than 160 nautical miles against ground targets. The jet also has a new state of the art electronic warfare system.
The F-16V has an upgraded airframe with an extended structural service life of 12,000 hours and can carry conformal fuel tanks.
Lockheed Martin said that the F-16 Block 70 an "advanced engine", but it did not specify which engine. Lockheed Martin also boasts about the F-16V's capability to carry a vast arsenal of weapons.
News media noted that the first production program of this type, which will be sold in Bahrain, is expected to be completed by September 2023, according to the Pentagon.
Defense One website, which has close ties with the US army, said that the aircraft sale was reduced from an original total of 19 to 16 units due to cost-reduction policy, the sale "would save the shrinking F-16 line," a Bahraini military source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The source described the sale to Bahrain as "Lockheed's pass to keep its F-16 production line open for the next three to five years."
In return, the Royal Bahraini Air Force is in a crucial need of upgrading its fleet to keep up with other Gulf nations, the source added. "It's a win-win situation; Bahrain needs the F-16, and the F-16 needs Bahrain."
Defense One website said that this purchase allows Bahrain to keep pace with other regional competitors such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as deals for fighter jets in the Middle East are expected to eclipse $22 billion over the next decade.