A trio of Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 fighters have departed Greenville, South Carolina bound for Bahrain.

The ferry flight from the company’s production site is significant as Bahrain will be the first Gulf Cooperation Council country to operate the new Block 70 variant, says Lockheed.

Bahrain F-16s in Greenville

Source: Lockheed Martin

The updated F-16 includes an active electronically scanned array radar and other improvements

So far, five F-16 Block 70s have been produced for Bahrain. The country’s first two examples are undergoing flight tests with the US Air Force’s 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California.

Another 11 Bahraini F-16 Block 70s are “in various stages of production and testing”, says Lockheed.

Lockheed says its production backlog for the latest version of the iconic fighter stands at 133 examples for six countries.

In addition to Bahrain, customers include Bulgaria, Jordan, Morocco, Slovakia and Taiwan.

Bahrain F-16 Greenville 2

Source: Lockheed Martin

A Bahraini F-16 Block 70 awaits departure from Greenville

“With the introduction of the F-16 Block 70, we are witnessing a significant leap in fighter capabilities,” says OJ Sanchez, vice-president of Lockheed’s Integrated Fighter Group.

“The integration of this proven platform will allow the Royal Bahraini Air Force to safeguard its skies effectively and partner with allies worldwide.”

The Bahraini ferry flight follows news in January that Slovakia had received its first new F-16 Block 70s.

Bahrain F-16 ferry flight

Source: Lockheed Martin

One of Bahrain’s new F-16 Block 70s takes off for its ferry flight to the Middle East

The updated version of the F-16 features a Northrop Grumman APG-83 active electronically scanned array radar, new avionics, and a modernised cockpit. The jet can also be equipped with conformal fuel tanks to extend range.

At the recent Singapore air show, Lockheed’s head of aeronautics Greg Ulmer said that the company aims to deliver 19-21 F-16s from Greenville this year. By the end of 2024 it hopes to be producing four examples monthly.