Bahrain modernizes Air Force

Bahrain is equipping itself with sophisticated U.S.-made fighter jets to ensure the security of the Arabian Gulf.

In March 2023, Bahraini officials celebrated the upcoming delivery of the first of 16 F-16 Block 70 fighter jets. The ceremony took place at manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s plant in South Carolina in the United States. 

Bahrain will receive the first batch of the latest F-16s in 2024 with the remainder to follow in 2025. Bahrainis first piloted the jet in January 2023 at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The Block 70/72 features advanced avionics, an active electronically scanned array radar, conformal fuel tanks, a modernized cockpit with new safety features, extended structural service life of 12,000 hours, advanced weapons, and improved engine performance. Among its capabilities is tracking and shooting down drones. 

“This advanced capability will enhance Bahrain’s involvement in the international coalition playing a vital role in preserving peace and stability, said Commander of the Royal Bahraini Air Force Maj. Gen. Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah
Al Khalifa. “The Royal Air Force is proud to be first Air Force to own Block 70 fighters.” 

Bahrain will be the first country in the region to acquire the sophisticated aircraft. Jordan recently placed an order for
12 of these F-16s.

“Our focus is on partnership in the region … there is no better way to secure partnership than with the rollout of the Block 70 F-16. It is not just a deliberate capability for Bahrain; it is now an investment with a long-term relationship. We will be able to cooperate and be interoperable with them for decades to come because of this purchase,” said Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, commander of the U.S. 9th Air Force and Air Forces Central.

Housing the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet headquarters and the 38-nation Combined Maritime Forces, Bahrain enjoys a special relationship with the U.S.  Sources: Al Watan, U.S. Air Forces Central

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