Bahrain's ambassador tours F-16 production line.

Bahrain's ambassador to the United States toured the Greenville Lockheed Martin site on Tuesday to see where his country's next fleet of fighter jets is being built.

The Middle East kingdom was the first of three countries to confirm orders for the F-16 Block 70 and will receive the first of the aircraft ever built in Greenville.

"We are here today in recognition of two very worthy occasions, for the defense ties between our two nations run long and deep," Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashed Al Khalifa said. "It is due to this relationship that we are celebrating a further success in our collaborations with the construction of this new F-16 fleet. Today also marks another worthy occasion for, in Bahrain, it's Martyrs Day. Like your Memorial Day, today commemorates those men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty to their country."

Bahrain has ordered 16 of the aircraft. Slovakia and Bulgaria also have contracts to purchase the F-16 and Lockheed Martin is in talks with other customers. The message from political leaders since the first deal was announced including again Tuesday through a video message from Sen. Lindsey Graham is that it serves America's interests to sell the fighter jets to allies. The ambassador concurred, saying it's best for everyone.

"His majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has made our relationship with the United States a top priority, fully reciprocated by those in Washington who share the recognition that, as I've said before, peace in the region is peace far beyond the region," he said.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster exchanged gifts with the ambassador and assured him that Lockheed Martin and the workers of South Carolina are up to the task of filling the order.

"It's a dangerous world out there," the governor said. "And the more partnerships, and the more friendships and the more relationships I believe the world turns on relationships the more relationships we have like this, with understanding and trust and confidence, the better not only will we be in South Carolina and this country...

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