Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

BAHRAINWILLDECIDE shortly between US offers of ten new Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds or 20 used, but upgraded, F-16A/Bs. Both offers are worth $303 million, including training and support.

The new aircraft on offer are Block 50 C/Ds powered by General Electric F110-129s. The used aircraft would be ex-US Air Force A/Bs with mid-life update (MLU) avionics, Falcon-Up structural modifications and -220E upgrades to the Pratt & Whitney F100 engines. The MLU includes an upgraded radar, cockpit, new mission computer and global-positioning, digital-terrain, datalink and identification systems.

US Congress is not expected to block the sale, as Bahrain already operates 12 Block 40 F-16C/Ds, but legislation has been proposed which would bar sales of the F-16, or McDonnell Douglas F-18s, to Latin American countries. The bill introduced by two Congressmen claims that the heads of state of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay agreed in April to a two-year moratorium on the purchase of advanced weaponry.

The US fighter makers have responded to a request for information from Chile for up to 48 aircraft, after the US Government agreed to reconsider a 1977 ban on sales to Latin America. Brazil is expected to follow within the next six to nine months, with a requirement for a similar number. Deliveries of new aircraft would take about three years. The Congressional Bill, if adopted, would bar sales to Latin America in the same way that the Pressler Amendment blocked delivery of F-16s to Pakistan.

Source: Flight International