The American company Lockheed Martin has started deliveries of Block 70, the most advanced configuration of the F-16 fighter. On Friday, March 10, at a ceremony held at the Lockheed Martin facility in Greenville, South Carolina, the first F-16 Block 70 fighter was delivered to the United States Air Force. The aircraft, which was delivered with ceremony, made its maiden flight on January 24, 2023.
According to the information provided by the company, this first F-16 Block 70 will be transferred to Bahrain in 2024 after undergoing various tests at the Edwards US Air Force base. It will be officially incorporated into the Bahrain Air Force inventory.
Bahrain has ordered 16 F-16 Block 70 fighters from Lockheed Martin. Deliveries of the aircraft are expected to end in 2025.
The first F-16 Block 70s will be delivered to the US government after the Final Assembly, and Control [FACO] process is completed in Greenville. After a series of tests, inspections, and acceptance, they will be flown to Bahrain by US Air Force pilots in groups of four.
Bahrain was the first user of the F-16 Block 70.
In November 2017, Lockheed Martin, the US Department of Defense, and the Kingdom of Bahrain signed an F-16 supply agreement. This agreement made Bahrain the first country to order the F-16 Block 70 fighters built from scratch.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has a unique history with the F-16: it was the first F-16 operator in the Gulf Cooperation Council in the early 1990s and is now taking delivery of the first F-16 Block 70.
As is known, the Royal Bahrain Air Force [RBAF] is also embarking on an upgrade program to Block 70 standard for its existing fleet of 20 F-16C/D Block 40s. The RBAF operates two squadrons of F-16 Block 40s.
So far, six countries have selected Blok 70/72 fighters. In addition to the 127 new aircraft planned to be manufactured in Greenville, a Letter of Offer and Acceptance [LOA] has been signed to purchase 12 Block 70s with Jordan and eight units with Bulgaria [Bulgaria has sent a purchase request of eight more fighters]. In this way, the number of aircraft that are expected to be manufactured at the facilities will increase to 155.
F-16 Block 70 Fighter Plane
Aircraft undergoing the F-16 Block 70/72 modernization are generally classified as Generation 4++ as they will undergo hardware and structural upgrades compared to other F-16s.
The most important step in the Viper’s modernization will be replacing the existing radar system with Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 Active Phased Array [AESA] radar. With integrating the APG-83 radar, the situational awareness of the F-16 will increase significantly.
Also, in the F-16 Block 70/72, there will be a 6″ x 8″ CPD (High Definition Display), an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System [GCAS], and more technological weapons stations that will allow more efficient use of AESA radar and control of the capsule data.
In addition, new ammunition and missile systems, especially the AGM-88E, will be integrated into the aircraft. The aircraft will have new-generation electronic warfare equipment, as well as an IRST pod and new targeting pods.
About Lockheed MartinHeadquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 116,000 people worldwide and is primarily engaged in the research, design, development, manufacturing, integration, and maintenance of advanced technology systems, products, and services.