U.S. Approves Arms Package for Bahrain

The U.S. State Department has approved a number of arms sales to Bahrain.

On September 8, 2017, the State Department announced the approval for several military sales to Bahrain. The two largest potential deals pertained to F-16s.

Bahrain’s request to purchase 19 F-16V fighter jets was approved. Together with M61 Vulcan 20mm guns, F-16V F-110-GE-129 engines, APG-83 AESA radar, and other systems as well as support services, the sale, if concluded, is estimated to be worth $2.8 billion.

The State Department noted, “The proposed sale improves Bahrain’s capability to meet current and future threats.  Bahrain will use the capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.  This purchase of F-16Vs will improve interoperability with United States and other regional allies.”

In regards to the F-16 Block 40s that are currently in Bahraini service, the State Department approved a request for the upgrade of these jets to F-16V configuration. Bahrain operates 20 jets which, if the upgrade is carried out, will receive F-110-GE-129 engines, APG-83 AESA radars, modular mission computers, AN/AAQ-33 Sniper advanced targeting pods, and other systems.

According to the State Department, “The upgraded F-16Vs will provide an increase in the capability of existing aircraft to sustain operations, meet training requirements, and support transition training for pilots to the upgraded aircraft.”

The sale of F-16 upgrades to Bahrain was estimated at $1.1 billion.

In addition to the F-16 contracts, the State Department approved a Bahraini request for two 35-meter patrol boats and over 200 TOW missiles (TOW 2A, 2B, and BB).

The patrol vessels will serve “as a deterrent to regional threats.” The sale, if concluded, is worth $60.3 million. The TOW missiles are worth $27 million and “will advance Bahrain’s efforts to develop an integrated ground defense capability.”

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

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