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Unprecedented Milestone: Lockheed Martin’s Next-Generation F-16s Set to Thrive Until 2060

The F-16 Block 70 represents an innovative version of the traditional F-16s that will remain effective well into the future, and the Royal Bahraini Airforce will be the pioneer in deploying this combat aircraft. With time comes dependency – at least that’s what the renowned American manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, is conveying with its new F-16 Block 70 combat aircraft.

The new production of F-16s incorporates structural and capability enhancements that “guarantee the global F-16 fleet’s operational capabilities until 2060 and beyond,” as stated by the original equipment manufacturer. The Kingdom of Bahrain will be the first nation to acquire this latest variant, as officials from Bahrain, the United States, and Lockheed Martin celebrated the agreement in Greenville, South Carolina on March 10th.

Bahrain has a distinct history with the F-16: it was the inaugural F-16 operator in the Gulf Cooperation Council, starting in the early 1990s, and now it is receiving the first F-16 Block 70. According to GlobalData’s report on Bahrain Defence Market Data, 2022-32, the Royal Bahraini Airforce currently possesses 16 legacy combat aircraft of the F-16C Block 40 and 4 of the F-16D Block 40. These aircraft were 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, stated, “With the Block 70 iteration, we are revolutionizing fourth-generation technology for the Royal Bahraini Air Force and other partners and allies worldwide.” The first F-16 Block 70 jet for Bahrain is one of 16 jets. The new variant successfully completed its maiden flight on January 24th, 2023. It will undergo additional flight tests at Edwards Airforce Base before being delivered to 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 utilizing common hardware and software elements found in F-22 and F-35 AESA radars. AESA technology provides enhanced situational awareness, flexibility, and faster all-weather targeting, offering pilots detailed target area information and digital map displays that can be customized with slew and zoom features.

The new variant is already gaining widespread popularity, with six countries selecting the 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 commence its long-lead activities. Similarly, Bulgaria has signed an LOA for an additional eight jets for its fleet. Once these agreements are finalized, the backlog will

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