Bahraini, American and Lockheed Martin officials celebrated the first F-16 Block 70 for the Royal Bahraini Air Force at Lockheed Martin in Greenville, South Carolina.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has a unique history with the F-16: It was the first F-16 operator in the Gulf Cooperation Council beginning in the early 1990s, and now is receiving the first F-16 Block 70.
"Today's ceremony represents the next generation of the powerful and proven legacy of the F-16, and demonstrates Lockheed Martin's commitment to advancing this program and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced 21st Century Security capabilities to the warfighter," said OJ Sanchez, vice president, Integrated Fighter Group, which includes the F-16 program. "With the Block 70 iteration, we are transforming 4th generation for the next generation for the Royal Bahraini Air Force and other partners and allies around the world."
This F-16 Block 70 jet is the first of 16 jets for Bahrain, and took its first flight on Jan. 24, 2023. From here, it will begin additional flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base before arriving in Bahrain in 2024.
Six countries have selected Block 70/72 aircraft. In addition to the current official backlog of 127 jets to-date to be built in Greenville, Jordan has signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for 12 jets and Lockheed Martin has received a contract to begin its long-lead activities. Bulgaria has also signed an LOA for an additional eight jets for its fleet. Once these are finalized, the backlog will increase to 147.
"The F-16 celebrated today was built by our talented, committed workforce in Greenville," said Danya Trent, vice president, F-16 Programs and Greenville site leader. "We are proud to call Greenville the global home of the F-16 and look forward to continuing to produce jets serving missions around the world."