F-16 Block 70 Fighters Set Off On Historic Ferry Flight To Bahrain; Vipers Ready To ‘Wipe-Off’ Enemies

Leading American aerospace company Lockheed Martin has initiated the delivery process of the first batch of F-16 Block 70 fighters to Bahrain. This marks the first in-country delivery of F-16 Block 70 aircraft since production resumed in 2019.

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A press release issued on March 6 by Lockheed Martin pointed out that the occasion “marked a significant milestone with the departure of the first ferry cell of three F-16 Block 70 jets from Greenville, South Carolina, to Bahrain.”

In addition to the ongoing delivery of three F-16 advanced Vipers, two Block 70 F-16s are presently undergoing flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base. These aircraft will eventually be dispatched to Bahrain, which has ordered 16 F-16 Viper Block 70/72 fighter aircraft. 

Bahrain was the first Gulf state to operate the F-16, receiving 22 F-16C/D Block 40 aircraft in two primary batches during the early 1990s under the Peace Crown I and II foreign military sales (FMS) programs.

The aircraft en route to Bahrain—two single-seat Block 70 F-16Cs and one two-seat F-16D—are significantly advanced compared to their predecessors currently in service with the Royal Bahraini Air Force.

F-16 Block 70 about to head on its delivery flight to Bahrain.
Pre-Flight Checks Are Completed On Bahrain’s F-16 Block 70 Single-Seat Fighter Jet In Preparation For Its Ferry Flight From Greenville, South Carolina To Bahrain On March 6, 2024. Lockheed Martin

Equipped with AN/APG-83 SABR active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, upgraded cockpits featuring wide panel pedestal displays, conformal fuel tanks, and a new ‘digital backbone’ with updated mission computers, these jets boast a 12,000-hour airframe life, among other enhancements. 

These new jets will emerge as the most advanced F-16s in the Persian Gulf, surpassing even the distinctive Block 60 F-16E/Fs of the UAE in certain aspects. 

O J Sanchez, Vice President and General Manager of the Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin, emphasized the F-16’s pivotal role in “the joint 21st Century Security battlespace.”

“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,” said Sanchez.   

The delivery of these fighters to Bahrain is just the beginning of a broader trend in international defense procurement. 

The order book for the new-build F-16s spans 133 aircraft across six countries, with ongoing discussions and potential orders indicating sustained demand for this iconic fighter jet.

“This year, Lockheed Martin anticipates 19-21 jets will be delivered from the company’s production line in Greenville, leveraging 1LMX advanced manufacturing and digital technologies,” the company noted. 

Earlier, the US approved the sale of F-16 jets to Turkey. The State Department notified Congress of its approval of the $23 billion sale to Turkey, along with the $8.6 billion sale of stealth F-35 fighter jets to Greece.

The deal includes 40 new F-16s and equipment to upgrade 79 of its existing F-16 fleet. The sale to Greece includes 40 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and related equipment.

President Biden formally communicated his decision to initiate the notification process for the sale of F-16s to Turkey, contingent upon Ankara’s completion of Sweden’s NATO accession.

As per Lockheed, its commitment to the Middle East spans over 50 years, focusing on regional security and advanced technology for critical missions. The current backlog of the F-16 Block 70 program includes 133 aircraft for six countries. This year, Lockheed Martin anticipates 19-21 jets will be delivered from the company’s production line in Greenville, leveraging 1LMX advanced manufacturing and digital technologies. Lockheed Martin foresees potential opportunities for up to 300 additional jets worldwide.