Lockheed Martin has Inaugurated New F-16 Production Line in Greenville.
SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Lockheed Martin’s new F-16 production line, where Bulgaria’s new fleet of F-16 Block 70 fighters will be manufactured, has been officially inaugurated in Greenville, South Carolina, United States, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, quoting Lockheed Martin`s press release.
With tooling and production equipment previously used in Fort Worth, Texas, now installed in a recently refurbished facility in Greenville, the company will soon begin manufacturing F-16 Block 70 aircraft for Bahrain.
“This is an exciting time as we celebrate another important milestone for the F-16 ‒ the world’s most successful, combat-proven 4th generation fighter,” said Michele Evans, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “The future is bright for this new home of F-16 production.”
Global demand continues to soar for new-build F-16s and F-16V upgrades for aircraft belonging to legacy fleets.
Bahrain became the first F-16 Block 70 customer in June 2018, followed by Bulgaria’s NATO partner Slovakia, which signed a Letter of Agreement in December last year for the procurement of 14 Block 70 aircraft. Bulgaria and the U.S. Government are currently negotiating the acquisition of new F-16 Block 70 aircraft to support the country’s national and NATO defence needs.
In addition, the U.S. has approved the proposed sale of 25 new production F-16 Block 72 aircraft (identical to Block 70 except for the engine type) and F-16V upgrades for Morocco.
To date, 4,588 F-16s have been produced, and there are approximately 3,000 operational F-16s in service today with 25 countries.
In support of Bulgaria’s procurement of F-16 Block 70, Lockheed Martin is committed to delivering economic and industrial benefits that will support sovereignty, share technology and help sustain local employment.
The purchase of F-16 will be a catalyst for long-term strategic cooperation in Bulgaria.
“As part of our commitment to supporting the purchase of F-16 Lockheed Martin will establish a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Bulgaria. This means that for each aircraft’s 12,000-hour operational life, Bulgarian F-16s can be maintained in Bulgaria, by Bulgarian engineers and technicians,” says Jim Robinson, F-16 campaign lead in Bulgaria.
“Lockheed Martin is also discussing a range of other partnership opportunities with Bulgarian industry and the potential involvement of Bulgarian academic institutions in research and development programmes that will develop the talent in science and engineering that is needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
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Source: Lockheed Martin