Lockheed Martin has completed developing the first export version of its F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft for the Royal Bahraini Air Force.
A ceremony to mark the milestone was held in Greenville, South Carolina, with defense representatives from Bahrain and the US in attendance.
The advanced aircraft is the first of 16 under order as part of a $1.1-billion contract signed in 2018.
It took its first flight earlier this year and will undergo additional flight tests before arriving in Manama in 2024.
Delivery Official ✅ Meet The Falcon of the Future!
The first Royal Bahraini Air Force F-16 was celebrated today at a ceremony in Greenville, South Carolina. With the Block 70 iteration, we are transforming 4th generation for the next generation for allies around the world. pic.twitter.com/0PmIQPunG9
— Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin) March 10, 2023
“Today’s ceremony represents the next generation of the powerful and proven legacy of the F-16, and demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s commitment to advancing this program and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced 21st century security capabilities to the warfighter,” company official OJ Sanchez said.
He added that the Block 70 would help transform Bahrain’s air force into a more advanced fleet.
Apart from Bahrain, five countries have placed orders for the F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft.
Jordan is acquiring 12, while Bulgaria has signed a letter of offer and acceptance for eight jets.
Lockheed currently has a backlog of 127 Block 70 jets to be built in Greenville.
Among countries that ordered the advanced aircraft, Bahrain will be the first customer to receive and integrate it.
Lockheed’s Block 70 configuration boasts an extended structural life of 12,000 hours, 50 percent more than other F-16s.
It features a high-resolution center pedestal display that increases pilot tactical awareness by providing them with critical tactical imagery.
Additionally, the Block 70 is equipped with the advanced APG-83 AESA radar that offers improved flexibility and quicker all-weather targeting.
“The F-16 celebrated today was built by our talented, committed workforce in Greenville,” Lockheed vice president Danya Trent said. “We are proud to call Greenville the global home of the F-16 and look forward to continuing to produce jets serving missions around the world.”