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F-16 Block 70 makes maiden flight, first aircraft destined for Bahrain

The first F-16 Block 70 shortly after departing on its maiden flight on 24 January. As well as being a first for the wider programme, it also marked an important milestone for Bahrain, which is due to receive this particular aircraft in the coming months. (Lockheed Martin)

The first Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon made its maiden flight on 24 January, ahead of its delivery to Bahrain.

The twin-seat F-16D conducted its first test flight out of Lockheed Martin's new Greenville facility in South Carolina, with the manufacturer saying the approximately 50-minute flight included airworthiness checks, such as engine, flight control, and fuel system checks, as well as basic aircraft handling.

The F-16 Block 70 represents the latest standard of the F-16 that made its maiden flight in 1974. It features the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array radar (derived from the F-16E/F Block 60 AN/APG-80 and also known as the Scalable Agile Beam Radar), a new Raytheon mission computer, the Link 16 datalink, modern cockpit displays, an enhanced electronic warfare system, and a ground collision avoidance system.

The Block 70 designation denotes a new-build aircraft that is powered by a General Electric F100-GE-129D engine, with a Block 72 designation denoting a Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine enhancement package (EEP) powerplant. Earlier block aircraft that are remanufactured to the Block 70/72 standard are designated F-16V (the maiden flight of an F-16V took place in 2017, with Taiwan being the first customer). This international Block 70/72 and F-16V standard is analogous to the latest M7 configuration flown by the US Air Force (USAF).

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