Bahrain seeks new F-16Vs and upgrade of existing F-16 fighters

The U.S. Congress has been notified of two possible Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deals to Bahrain for new F-16V fighters and the upgrade of its existing F-16 fleet of 20 aircraft.

U.S. Middle East ally Bahrain seeks to procure Lockheed Martin’s newest F-16 model aircraft called F-16V to strengthen its air force.

The US has agreed to sell its Middle East ally (a major non-NATO ally) 19 F-16V aircraft, 35 fast patrol boats and more than 200 anti-tank missiles including upgrading 20 of F-16s in its existing fleet. The sales had been held up by the Barack Obama administration due to human rights concerns. The Trump administration first announced plans to approve the F-16 deal in March.

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The proposed purchase and upgrades — worth a combined total of $3.867 billion, will come under two U.S. Foreign Military Sales contracts approved by the U.S. State Department.

The possible deals were reported to Congress Friday by the U.S. Defense Security and Cooperation Agency, which manages the FMS program, report UPI.

“The proposed sale improves Bahrain’s capability to meet current and future threats,” DSCA said. “Bahrain will use the capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.”

“This purchase of F-16Vs will improve interoperability with United States and other regional allies.”

A US official said the deal would help Bahrain’s armed forces better integrate with American forces, including the 5th Fleet out of Manama, which is home to two aircraft carriers, 20 smaller ships and as many as 20,000 sailors. Bahrain is a major non-NATO ally, meaning that the US government gives it preference for approving arms sales and other military assistance, report AL-Monitor’s Pentagon correspondent.

The proposed contract for the 19 F-16Vs, worth $2.785 billion, includes M61 Vulcan 20mm gun systems; F-110-GE-129 engines; APG-83 active electronically scanned array radars; modular mission computers; GPS navigation systems; and missile launchers.

U.S. government and contractor technical support, logistics, and infrastructure modernization would also be part of the deal.

Lockheed Martin would be the prime contractor.

Under the second contract – value $1.082 billion – 20 F-16 Block 40 aircraft belonging to the Royal Bahraini Air Force, would be upgraded to the “V” configuration. The modernization includes new F-110-GE-129 engines, AESA radars; modular mission computers and other equipment features in the order for new aircraft.

The prime contractor would be Lockheed Martin.

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