Bahrain has been approved to procure 22 new Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons and to upgrade its existing fleet of 20 aircraft, in two separate deals valued at a combined USD3.86 billion.
The approvals, announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 8 September, comprise USD2.78 billion for the procurement of 22 new F-16V-standard fighters, and USD1.08 billion for the upgrade of 20 F-6C/D Block 40 aircraft to the same F-16V configuration.
In terms of the procurement of new F-16Vs, the proposed deal includes ancillary equipment, training, and support. The contract to modernise the existing aircraft includes a simulator, ancillary equipment, training, support, targeting pods, and limited quantities of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons.
Also referred to as the F-16 Block 70/72, the F-16V features the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar (derived from the F-16E/F Block 60 AN/APG-80 and also known as the Scalable Agile Beam Radar [SABR]), a new Raytheon mission computer, the Link 16 datalink, modern cockpit displays, an enhanced electronic warfare system, and a ground-collision avoidance system.
The former Obama administration delayed approval of the sale of new-build F-16Vs to the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) and the upgrade of the service's existing Block 40 fleet due to political concerns; however, in late March 2017 the Trump administration notified Congress that the sales could proceed. No reason has been disclosed as to the delay between the administration's notification and the DSCA's recent announcement.
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