The U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale to Bahrain of 3,000 bomb bodies worth an estimated $45 million aimed at boosting the Royal Bahraini Air Force's F-16 combat aircraft operations, the department said on Friday.
The sale was requested by the Government of Bahrain and "will enhance the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally which is an important security partner in the region," it said.
Since many Bahraini's rose up in 2011, demanding greater rights in the Shiite majority country that is run by a Sunni monarchy, the government of Bahrain has been engaging in a crackdown against dissent, particularly on opposition figures. Bahraini leaders claim that opposition figures are part of a plot conducted by Iran to sow discord in the small island, and has often used anti-terrorism legislation to persecute activists, journalists, and government critics.
The Bahraini government has been accused of torturing dissidents by human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Over the course of its crackdown, authorities in Manama have caught small cells of armed insurgent groups. Bahraini officials claim that some of these groups, who are ideologically aligned with the Shitte majority, have been found with C4 explosives.
The moves to increase the capacity of the Royal Bahraini Air Force comes days after US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has declared that he seeks to forge an anti-Iran alliance in the Middle East.