MANAMA, BAHRAIN – The government of Bahrain announced on Tuesday that it had finalized a $3.8 billion purchase of F-16 fighter jets from U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
Speaking at the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Manama, Bahrain Royal Air Force commander Major General Shaikh Hamad bin Abdullah al Khalifa said, “I am pleased to announce today … the kingdom of Bahrain has reached an agreement with the USA to procure the most advance version of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Viper.”
The deal includes 16 aircraft and is worth $3.8 billion. Bahrain is hoping the first planes will be delivered in 2021, Hamad said.
Bahrain and Lockheed Martin announce $3.8 billion deal for F-16 Vipers pic.twitter.com/pVtfd4r1XU
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Rick Groesch, Lockheed Martin Vice President for the Middle East, said the company is in talks with other Middle East countries for the sale of about 70 aircraft.
The U.S. State Department notified Congress of the sale of F-16V planes and related equipment during the Obama administration but it was delayed over human rights concerns. President Trump dropped the human rights conditions earlier this year, and the State Department approved the sale last month after Congressional committees cleared it.
Bahrain initially requested 19 of the planes, known as Fighting Falcons, worth $2.78 billion, as well as another $1.8 billion in upgrades to its existing fleet. Hamid said the purchase of the other three aircraft was still a possibility.