Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1.1 billion contract to produce 16 F-16 Viper Block 70 fighter aircraft for Bahrain, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a release.
Work under the $1,124,545,002 fixed-price-incentive-firm contract is expected to be complete by September 30, 2023, the Friday, June 22 release said.
In October, the government of Bahrain announced that it had finalized a $3.8 billion deal with Lockheed for the F-16 purchase. Bahrain Royal Air Force commander Major General Shaikh Hamad bin Abdullah al Khalifa said the Gulf state hoped the first planes will be delivered in 2021.
The sale of F-16 Vipers and related equipment to Bahrain was first approved by the U.S. State Department in 2016 during the Obama administration but it was delayed over human rights concerns. President Donald Trump dropped the human rights conditions last year.
The State Department then approved the sale of 19 aircraft worth $2.78 billion, and another $1.1 billion to upgrade Bahrain’s existing fleet of 20 F-16s to the Viper configuration in September 2017. The proposed sales also include additional equipment and support. Hamid said in October that the purchase of the other three aircraft was still a possibility.
International interest in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a combat-proven fourth generation fighter aircraft that first flew in 1974 remains high. In April, Greece announced it would upgrade 85 of its fleet of F-16 aircraft to the Viper configuration. Also in April, the U.S. State Department approved the sale to Slovakia of 14 F-16 Vipers.
The F-16 Viper variant includes an active electronically scanned array radar, a new mission computer and electronic warfare suite, automated ground collision avoidance system, and various cockpit improvements. It first flew in October 2015.
The U.S. State Department in April approved the $911 million sale of 12 Bell AH-1Z attack helicopters to Bahrain, a proposed sale that also included AGM-114 Hellfire precision-guided air-to-surface missiles, and Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II precision-guided rockets.
In December, Bahrain was among ten foreign customers for Raytheon’s Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs).