F-16? ?Fighting Falcon. Lockheed Martin photo.
FARNBOROUGH, England—Lockheed Martin says it has seen a “remarkable and notable resurgence” of the F-16 across the globe, saying Slovakia is the latest country to select the F-16 fighter.
The country plans to buy 14 of the F-16V Block 70 aircraft, following the $1.12 billion purchase for 16 of the same type for the Royal Bahraini Air Force earlier this year.
Randy Howard, head of Lockheed’s F-16 business development, attributed the surge to the Block 70 capabilities, which include upgraded radars, mission computers and systems, and “state-of-the-art technology.” He also highlighted the “symbiotic relationship” between the company’s fourth and fifth generation aircraft, saying Lockheed has the unique ability to apply lessons learned from the F-35 and F-22 to legacy systems. All new aircraft are being built with a 12,000-hour life cycle, compared to the 8,000 hours for older aircraft.
The first Bahraini Viper is expected to roll off the production line in Greenville, S.C., in the next few years, and all of Slovakia’s aircraft will be produced there as well. The company is still in the process of transitioning its F-16 production line from its previous home in Fort Worth, Texas, where the F-35 is now being produced.
Construction will start wrapping up “over the next six to eight months,” and Lockheed will moving its F-16 supply base and parts to South Carolina, he added.
However, India has expressed interest in the F-16 and if selected, Lockheed plans to establish an “exclusive F-16 production capacity” inside India, said Howard.
There are more than 3,000 operational F-16s flown by 25 countries today, and Howard said he could see as many as 200 additional aircraft going to other countries around the world, which would keep the production line active to 2030, or even longer if India selects the F-16.