Global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin today (March 11) celebrated the unveiling of the first F-16 Block 70 jet along with senior Bahraini and American officials at its factory 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 GCC beginning in the early 1990s, and now is receiving the first F-16 Block 70.
Announcing the key achievement, Lockheed Martin said the new jet is being readied for delivery to the Royal Bahraini Air Force.
This is the first of 16 jets for Bahrain, which already completed its first flight test early this year. This will be followed by additional flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base before their arrival in Bahrain next year.
"Today’s ceremony represents the next generation of the powerful and proven legacy of F-16, and demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s commitment to advancing this programme and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced 21st Century Security capabilities to the warfighter," remarked OJ Sanchez, the Vice President of Integrated Fighter Group, which includes the F-16 programme.
"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," he added.
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, the Vice President for F-16 Programmes 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," he added.-TradeArabia News Service