The Royal Bahraini Air Force has acquired 16 new F-16 Fighting Falcon Block 70 aircraft valued at $1.12bn (BD425m).

The Bahraini Air Force has 16 F-16C Block 40 and four F-16D Block 40 multirole aircraft, both acquired in 1990, per GlobalData’s “Bahrain Defense Market 2024-2029” report.  

The departure of the initial three jets underscores the culmination of a collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Bahrain, positioning the nation well for fighter capabilities. With Bahrain currently operating five F-16 Block 70 jets and an additional 11 undergoing various stages of production and testing, the country solidifies its stature as a player in the evolution of air defence strategies.

While integrating the F-16 Block 70 variant enhances Bahrain’s defence capabilities, OJ Sanchez, vice president and general manager of the Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin, emphasised its broader implications. 

Sanchez remarked, “With the introduction of the F-16 Block 70, we are witnessing a significant leap in fighter capabilities. The integration of this proven platform will allow the Royal Bahraini Air Force to safeguard its skies effectively and partner with allies worldwide.”

The jets epitomise 4.5-generation technology, owing to features like the APG-83 AESA Radar, advanced avionics, and modernised cockpits with enhanced safety systems and weapon platforms. Notably, these aircraft have conformal fuel tanks for extended range, an improved performance engine, and an extended structural service life of 12,000 hours.

Furthermore, the incorporation of the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) shows Lockheed Martin’s commitment to pilot safety, with the system credited with saving the lives of 13 pilots across 12 jets since its introduction in late 2014.

Lockheed Martin’s partnership with Bahrain and its dedication to the Middle East region span over five decades. The company focuses on bolstering regional security and delivering technology for critical missions. The current backlog of the F-16 Block 70 programme includes 133 aircraft for six countries. Leveraging manufacturing and digital technologies, Lockheed Martin is poised to deliver 19-21 jets this year from its production line in Greenville.

Recent developments amongst other nations include Bulgaria’s unveiling of its F-16 Block 70 fleet and Slovakia’s reception of the first two F-16 Block 70 multirole fighters.