U.S. State Department approves $3.8 billion F-16V and F-16V-upgrade sale to Bahrain

The U.S. State Department has approved a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) $2.79 billion U.S. sale for 19 new-built Lockheed Martin F-16V and a $1.08 billion F-16V upgrade set for 20 F-16C/D Block-40 to Bahrain.

The Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) outlines the major defence equipment of each proposed FMS deal (new-built F-16V and F-16V upgrade kits). Congress has 30 days to reject either or both.

Marquee components of the deal include, among others, AN/APG-83 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radars, General Electric F-110-GE-129 engines, Improved Programmable Display Generators, Modular Mission Computers, Embedded Global Navigation Systems, AN/ALQ-211 AIDEWS self-protection and jamming suites and AN/APX-126 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) systems.

In addition, Bahrain also requested 25 AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods, six DB-110 Advanced Reconnaissance Systems, two AIM-9X air-to-air missiles (AAM), two AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM), and kits for small numbers of various other air-to-surface munitions, among them the GBU-24 Paveway III laser-guided bomb (LGB) and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).

The package also includes one Joint Mission Planning System, one F-16V simulator and captive training units (numbering between two and four) for the AIM-120C7, AGM-154 Joint Stand-off Weapon, MK-84/BLU-117, BLU-109 and AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile. Besides MDEs, both deals include training, maintenance support, spare parts, logistics support and other standard after-sale provisions.

President Trump’s administration has been pushing various proposed arms previously tabled by President Obama to the fore, particularly to countries with whom the previous administration expressed concerns over human rights, such as Bahrain. The White House approved the F-16 sale to Bahrain in March.

If finalized, this would be Lockheed Martin’s first new-built F-16V sale. This follows the company’s announcement in April to shift the F-16’s final assembly line from Fort Worth, Texas to Greenville in South Carolina. That month, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) formally approved a service life-extension program (SLEP) for its F-16 Block-40/42 and F-16 Block-50/52, lengthening airframe life from 8,000 hours to 12,000 hours.

The F-16V and SLEP have made Lockheed Martin optimistic about the potential F-16 upgrade market. In July 2016, the company expressed hope in upgrading 500 serving F-16s, of which it was already engaged in providing for 300 aircraft in South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

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