WASHINGTON - Bahrain has concluded a $3.8-billion deal with a US aerospace and military equipment giant to purchase 16 upgraded F-16 fighter jets.
The Bahrain Defense Force announced on Monday it signed the agreement with Lockheed Martin during a military exhibition in the Persian Gulf sheikhdom, AFP reported.
The State Department had informed Congress in March that it planned to approve a request by Manama to purchase the fighter jets.
The US multi-billion dollar arms deal with Bahrain , which is home to America’s Fifth Fleet, comes as US President Donald Trump has eased restrictions on arms sales to certain countries including Bahrain .
In September, Reuters cited an unidentified US official as saying that the $3.8-billion agreement was a package arms deal, which included 19 F-16 fighter jets, upgrades, 35-meter patrol boats equipped with machine guns, and 221 anti-tank missiles.
The US State Department removed human rights conditions on the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain after US President Donald Trump announced in May that Washington’s relations with Manama were set to improve. The announcement came after Trump met Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah during a visit to Saudi Arabia.
The deal comes as the Manama regime has been under fire by the international community for its heavy-handed crackdown on dissidents and political activists.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s ruthless clampdown, which has the backing of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
They are demanding that the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.