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Revolutionary Future: Lockheed Martin Unveils Longevity Plans for F-16s until 2060

The F-16 Block 70 represents a fresh iteration of the traditional F-16s that will remain suitable for future needs, and the Royal Bahraini Airforce will be the pioneering force to deploy this combat aircraft. As time progresses, dependency grows—this is the message conveyed by Lockheed Martin, the renowned American manufacturer, with its advanced F-16 Block 70 combat aircraft.

The new production of F-16s incorporates enhancements in structure and capabilities that “guarantee the worldwide F-16 fleet’s operational efficiency until 2060 and beyond,” as stated by the original equipment manufacturer. The Kingdom of Bahrain has secured the position as the first nation to acquire this latest variant. The agreement was celebrated by Bahraini, American, and Lockheed Martin officials in Greenville, South Carolina on 10 March.

Bahrain has a significant history with the F-16, having been the inaugural F-16 operator in the Gulf Cooperation Council since the early 1990s. Now, it is set to receive the first F-16 Block 70 aircraft. According to GlobalData’s report on the Bahrain Defence Market Data, 2022-32, the Royal Bahraini Airforce currently operates 16 legacy combat aircraft, specifically 16 F-16C Block 40 and 4 F-16D Block 40 models. These aircraft were procured between the 1990s and 2000s.

The new variant will equip Bahrain’s fourth-generation aircraft with fifth-generation capabilities, ensuring the air force remains up to date. OJ Sanchez, Vice President of Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin, which encompasses the F-16 program, stated, “With the Block 70 iteration, we are modernizing fourth-generation capabilities to serve as the next generation for the Royal Bahraini Air Force and other partners and allies worldwide.” This F-16 Block 70 jet marks the first of 16 aircraft destined for Bahrain. The new variant successfully completed its inaugural flight on 24 January 2023. It will now undergo further flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base before being delivered to Bahrain in 2024. Teaching an old dog new tricks The Block 70 benefits from Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 AESA radar, which equips it with fifth-generation fighter radar capabilities by leveraging shared hardware and software with F-22 and F-35 AESA radars. AESA provides enhanced situational awareness, flexibility, and expedited all-weather targeting, empowering pilots with detailed target area information and customizable digital map displays with slew and zoom features.

The new variant is already gaining popularity, with six countries selecting Block 70 aircraft. In addition to the current official backlog of 127 jets to be manufactured in Greenville, Jordan has signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for 12 jets, and Lockheed Martin has received a contract to initiate long-lead activities. Bulgaria has also signed an LOA for an additional eight jets for its fleet. Once these agreements are finalized, the backlog will

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