The U.S. government has agreed to a potential sale worth nearly $4 billion of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s latest F-16V fighter jet variant to Bahrain, the State Department announced.
Bahrain requested 19 F-16Vs -- the latest and most advanced version of the venerable fourth-generation fighter known as the Fighting Falcon -- at an estimated $2.8 billion, and to upgrade 20 of its existing Block 40 variants to the F-16V configuration at an estimated $1 billion, according to separate releases Friday from the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The Bahrain government also wants to buy TOW anti-tank missiles and fast patrol boats, according to additional press releases.
The foreign military sale for the newly manufactured Vipers also encompasses enhanced support and technical equipment, including APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array, or AESA, radars; M61 Vulcan 20mm gun systems; F-110-GE-129 engines; modular mission computers; and various global navigation systems, encrypted software, wing missile launchers, radio and advanced GPS equipment.
- Trump Lacks Art of the Deal on F-18s to Finland
- New F-16V 'Viper' Makes First Flight
- F-16 Block 52 Upgrades Set to Take Thunderbirds Into the Future
The request also calls for personnel training and training equipment, simulators, publications and the appropriate tech documentation, the release said.
Bahrain already has 20 F-16 Block 40s. Given Bahrain's current inventory, the U.S. anticipates an easy transition for the Persian Gulf ally to the latest model, State officials said.
In October 2015, the F-16V made its maiden flight with the Northrop Grumman Corp.-made AESA radars, according to Lockheed. The advanced AESA on the F-16V, known as the Viper, provides both air-to-ground capabilities, like its fifth-generation F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II counterparts.
The radar steers beams electronically -- without moving parts -- and redirects them from one location to another. Unlike a passive version, the radar spreads signals over multiple radio frequencies, making them difficult to detect and jam, and allowing the aircraft employing the technology to remain stealthy.
The F-16V's advanced avionics configuration also includes a new cockpit center pedestal display, a modernized mission computer and a high-capacity Ethernet data bus, according to Lockheed.
The U.S. Air Force a few years ago canceled a plan to upgrade some 340 of the single-engine fighters with such enhancements due to budget limitations and instead decided to fund other programs, including the F-35.
State officials said Congress has been notified of the potential F-16V sale to Bahrain's military.