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1st Block 70 F16 Takes Off From Greenville

New Manufacturing Facility Completes First Bahraini Viper

The first new production Block 70 F-16 took flight from Lockheed Martin's Greenville, South Carolina facility.

The flight  marks the first completed F-16 made at the facility after moving production to Greenville from the older Fort Worth, Texas location. The test aircraft is the latest and greatest of the venerable old Falcon and the first of 16 jets bound for Bahrain. Demand for the F-16 may have surprised Lockheed after the move to Greenville, as global instability heats up the search for affordable, single-engine fighters around the world. Moving F-16 production allowed the company to devote their much larger Texas assembly lines to the F-35, using less factory space on an aging legacy fighter - or so they thought. Customers don't seem to feel the same about the Falcon, with 128 backorders placed for Block 70 and 72 aircraft. Counting additional offers like an LoA from both Jordan and Bulgaria, it's likely that 20 more will make their way onto the list in the near future. The F-16 has greatly outgrown its initial roots as a single engine daytime fighter, with a series of modernizations that keep it competitive in today's 'battlespace' - at a palatable price point, to boot. Given recent developments in Eastern Europe, rumor abounds that the F-16 is once again a procurement frontrunner.

The test flight took place on January 24th, with Lockheed Martin test pilots Dwayne "Pro" Opella and Monessa "Siren" Balzhiser at the helm. Total flight time ran less than an hour, going through the basic airworthiness, engine, flight control and fuel system checks.

"Today's successful flight is a testament of the hard work, dedication and commitment to our customers and their missions," said OJ Sanchez, vice president, Integrated Fighter Group, which includes the F-16 program. "This milestone demonstrates Lockheed Martin's commitment to advancing this program and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced 21st Century Security capabilities to the warfighter."

"Lockheed Martin is fully committed to delivering quality platforms for our customers' critical missions, and I am so proud of our talented team in Greenville," said Danya Trent, F-16 Vice President and Site Lead in Greenville. "This is the culmination of significant development, design, digital engineering, supply chain and production line advances to an already proven platform that will continue to deliver decades of service in support of customers' national security."

FMI: www.lockheedmartin.com


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