November 23, 2022 (by Bjorn Claes) - On November 21st, 2022 the first new-built block 70 F-16 destined for Bahrain has left the factory at Greenville.
Rol-out of the first F-16D block 70 with serial #1611 from the RBAF. It will make it's inaugural flight in 2023. [Lockheed photo]
This event marks a number of firsts. It is the first new-built block 70 F-16. It is the first of a new batch for the Royal Bahraini Air Force and it's the first F-16 to be built at the newly constructed Lockheed Martin factory at Greenville, South-Carolina.
Back in 2017 Bahrain
signed a contract to procure (at first) up to 19 new block 70 F-16s. It was the first new order for F-16s after the last Iraqi block 52
airframes left the Fort Worth factory back in 2017, closing down the production run of the remarkable F-16 after nearly 40 years of continuous production. The order for Bahrain was followed suite with orders for Slovakia, Bulgaria, Taiwan
. This means the backlog for the F-16 currently stands at 153 airframes bringing the total well beyond 4,700.
The first roll out of the Bahraini F-16s is a D-model with serial #1611
. It will make its inaugural flight in the first months of 2023 with delivery scheduled in the first half of 2024. This later than anticipated delivery schedule is off course due to the COVID-19 crisis and the supply change difficulties accompanying it. With those more and more being resolved the production of more F-16s will be forthcoming in Greenville.