Bahrain is moving forward with the development its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets after approval from the U.S. State Department. The deal could be worth $3.9 billion for the delivery 19 new aircraft and necessary components to upgrade 20 of Bahrain’s F-16s to F-16Vs.
“These proposed defense purchases by Bahrain further U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. The Government of Bahrain plays a key role in the Gulf’s security architecture as host to the U.S. Fifth Fleet and is a member of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition,” a State Department official said. “U.S. assistance enables Bahrain to continue to obtain the equipment and training it needs to provide for its own defense and operate alongside U.S. air and naval forces.”
The 19 F-16Vs sold to Bahrain would be equipped with M61 Vulcan 20mm gun systems, F-110-GE-129 engines, Northrop Grumman APG-83 radars, modular mission computers and Marvin Group LAU-129 missile launchers. Lockheed Martin would also supply advanced radio equipment, personnel training, technical support services, equipment integration and logistical support for the aircraft. Implementation of the sale would include sending 10 U.S. government representatives and 75 Lockheed contractors to Bahrain to oversee the integration of the aircraft for the country’s air force.
The upgrade package would include new engines, radars, mission computer systems, missile launchers and guidance control units, among other weapons systems. Other components needed for the upgrade would be included, like a joint mission planning system, an F-16V simulator, advanced radio systems, and other items.
“U.S. defense cooperation also strengthens Bahrain’s interoperability for regional security and counterterrorism cooperation; boosts Bahrain’s maritime defenses; and improves Bahrain’s ability to contribute to addressing regional security challenges,” the State Department official said. “We have regular discussions with the Bahrainis on a variety of issues, including human rights and political reform. We continue to urge the government of Bahrain to pursue reconciliation and advance reform efforts for the benefit of Bahrain’s long-term security and our mutual interest in regional stability.”
This article was originally published by Defense Daily, an Avionics sister publication. It has been edited.