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Lockheed Martin rolls out first F-16 Block 70 for Bahrain

The first F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon for Bahrain was rolled out on 10 March. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin rolled out the first F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon for Bahrain during a ceremony at the company's Greenville production facility in South Carolina on 10 March.

The twin-seat F-16D was the first of 16 jets destined for the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF), and also the first F-16 to be built at Greenville since production of the type was transferred from Fort Worth, Texas, in 2019.

The roll-out came weeks after the first flight on 24 January, and the aircraft will undergo flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base before being flown to Bahrain in 2024.

Bahrain was the first F-16 operator in the Gulf Cooperation Council in the early 1990s, and in June 2018 became the launch customer for the F-16 Block 70 when it signed a USD1.12 billion contract with the US government (if all of Bahrain's F-16 Block 70 options are exercised, the total value of the deal is estimated to be USD3.86 billion). The RBAF will also upgrade its 20 Block 40 F-16C/D aircraft to this latest standard to make a total fleet of 36 F-16 Block 70 aircraft.

Weapons recently approved for the Bahraini F-16V deal comprise 32 Raytheon AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles; 32 Raytheon AIM-9X Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles; 20 Boeing AGM-84 Block 2 Harpoon missiles; two AGM-84L-1 Block 2 Harpoon missiles; 40 Raytheon AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapons; 50 Raytheon AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles; 100 Boeing GBU-39 250 lb Small Diameter Bombs; and items for GBU-10, GBU-12, GBU-31, GBU-49, GBU-50, GBU-54, and GBU-56 precision-guided bombs.

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