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Breaking News: Lockheed Martin Unleashes Ambitious Vision for F-16s, Operational until 2060

The F-16 Block 70 is an innovative version of the traditional F-16 aircraft that will remain relevant well into the future, and the Royal Bahraini Airforce will be the pioneer in deploying this combat aircraft. With time comes dependence – that’s what Lockheed Martin, the renowned American defense contractor, suggests with its new F-16 Block 70 combat aircraft. The production of new F-16s incorporates structural and capability enhancements that “ensure the international F-16 fleet can operate until 2060 and beyond,” as stated by the original equipment manufacturer.

The Kingdom of Bahrain will be the first nation to acquire the latest variant, and Bahraini, American, and Lockheed Martin officials celebrated the agreement in Greenville, South Carolina on March 10th. Bahrain has a special relationship with the F-16: it was the initial operator of F-16s in the Gulf Cooperation Council since the early 1990s and is now receiving the first F-16 Block 70. According to GlobalData’s report on the Bahrain Defense Market Data (2022-2032), the Royal Bahraini Airforce currently possesses 16 F-16C Block 40 and 4 F-16D Block 40 legacy combat aircraft, procured between the 1990s and 2000.

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 includes the F-16 program, remarked, “With the Block 70 iteration, we are revolutionizing fourth-generation aircraft for the Royal Bahraini Air Force and other partners and allies worldwide.” The F-16 Block 70 jet for Bahrain is the first of 16 aircraft. It completed its maiden flight on January 24, 2023.

Further flight tests will be conducted at Edwards Airforce Base before the aircraft’s arrival in Bahrain in 2024. Old dog, new tricks Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 AESA radar equips the Block 70 with fifth-generation fighter radar capabilities by leveraging shared hardware and software with F-22 and F-35 AESA radars.

An 8th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off during a routine training event at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 24, 2021. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft that is highly maneuverable in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It can reach top speeds of 1,500 mph and can reach altitudes of more than 50,000 feet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kristin S. High)

AESA technology enhances situational awareness, flexibility, and all-weather targeting, providing 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. Alongside the official backlog of 127 jets to be manufactured in Greenville, Jordan has signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for 12 aircraft, and Lockheed Martin has received a contract to commence preliminary activities. Bulgaria has also signed an LOA for an additional eight aircraft for its fleet. Once these agreements are finalized, the backlog will

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