The State Department told Congress it backs the sale of 19 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to Bahrain without preconditions on improved human rights previously demanded by the Obama administration, according to two people familiar with the proposal.
The request of support for the sale of up to $2.7 billion in jets doesn’t include a package to upgrade older F-16s, which officials said last year could bring the proposal to as much as $4 billion, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Wednesday’s request triggers a roughly three-week informal notification period that will be followed by a formal, publicly released document that Congress has 30 days to approve.
Lockheed has been winding down production of the F-16 in Fort Worth as orders wane and resources are shifted to the growing F-35 program. The last F-16 is expected to roll off the Fort Worth assembly line in September and Lockheed announced …