First Lockheed Martin F-16D Block 70 Fighter for Royal Bahraini Air Force Rolled Out at Greenville

First Lockheed Martin F-16D Block 70 Fighter for Royal Bahraini Air Force Rolled Out at Greenville

Lockheed Martin has published a photo of the first F-16D Block 70 Fighter for the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) on 21 November 2022. The first roll out of the Bahraini F-16s is a D-model with serial #1611. It is the first of a new batch for the Royal Bahraini Air Force and it’s the first F-16 to be built at the newly constructed Lockheed Martin factory at Greenville, South-Carolina. The last Iraqi block 52 airframes left the Fort Worth factory back in 2017, closing down the production run of the remarkable F-16 after nearly 40 years of continuous production. It will make its inaugural flight in the first months of 2023 with delivery scheduled in the first half of 2024. This later than anticipated delivery schedule is off course due to the COVID-19 crisis and the supply change difficulties accompanying it. With those more and more being resolved the production of more F-16s will be forthcoming in Greenville, South-Carolina.

In, 2017, the US State Department has approved a Foreign Military Sale to Bahrain for 19 F-16V fighter aircraft estimated to cost US$2.785 billion besides upgrading its 20 existing F-16 block 40 aircraft to F-16V configuration for US$1.082 billion. In 2018, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1.1 billion contract by the US government to produce 16 Block-70 fighters for Bahrain, the first customer to acquire what Lockheed called the “newest and most advanced F-16 production configuration.” The Royal Bahraini Air Force has ordered sixteen Block 70 F-16s, divided over ten F-16C and six F-16D models. The aircrafts will remain at the Lockheed facility under the direct supervision of Lockheed staff, with limited non-flying training activities with Bahrain authorized through a contract between the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed. When a grouping of aircraft is ready (normally four aircraft), U.S. Air Force pilots will ferry them overseas to the Bahraini operational location.

The Kingdom of Bahrain was the first customer to procure the F-16 Block 70, the newest and most advanced F-16 production configuration. The contract includes 32 AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM missiles; 1 AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM guidance section; 32 AIM-9X missiles; 20 AGM-84 Block II Harpoon missiles; 2 ATM-84L-1 Block II Harpoon missiles; 40 AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) All-Up-Rounds; 50 AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM); 4 AGM-88 HARM training missiles; 100 GBU-39 250 lb Small Diameter Bomb (SDB-1) All-Up-Rounds; 400 MAU-209 C/B Computer Control Groups; 80 MAU-210 Enhanced Computer Control Groups; 340 MXU-650 Air Foil Group : 140 MXU-651 Air Foil Groups (GBU-10, -50); 70 KMU-557 GBU-31 tail kits; 120 KMU-572 tail kits; 100 DSU-38 proximity sensors; 462 MK-82 or BLU-111 500 lb Bomb Bodies; 210 BLU-109/BLU-117 or MK-84 2000 lb Bomb Bodies; 10 practice BLU-109/BLU-117 and 670 FMU-152 fuses. These weapons support the new procurement of F-16 Block 70 and upgrades of their existing block-40s.

On 15 February 2012, Lockheed Martin unveiled a new version of their F-16 at the 2012 Singapore Airshow.[16] The F-16V will feature enhancements including an AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, an upgraded mission computer and architecture, and improvements to the cockpit – all capabilities identified by the U.S. Air Force and several international customers for future improvements. The new variant is dubbed the “Viper”, which is intended to better operate with fifth-generation fighters, and should not be confused with Lockheed’s F-16IN Block 70/72 “Super Viper”, which was offered to India for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition and showcased at the 2009 Aero India Air Show. On 16 October 2015, the F-16V flew for the first time with an APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar AESA, a new Center Pedestal Display, a modernized mission computer, Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, and many other upgrades. This can be fitted on new production F-16s or retrofitted on existing ones.

Roll-out of the first F-16D block 70 with serial #1611 from the RBAF. It will make it’s inaugural flight in 2023. (Photo by Lockheed Martin)