Last week, U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a 10-year contract for the maintenance of F-16 fighter aircraft but later some sources reported that the service also is considering buying new fourth-generation fighter aircraft.
Aviation Week was the first to report that the U.S. Air Force is considering changing the programs of the modern fighter procurement program.
New Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon orders are being seriously discussed two decades after signing the last production contract, according to AviationWeek.
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The F-16, currently in its fourth generation, is one of the world’s most advanced aircraft. It is single-engine supersonic multirole fighter originally developed by General Dynamics and now built Lockheed for some export consumers.
As noted by the Air Force, in an air combat role, the F-16’s maneuverability and combat radius (distance it can fly to enter air combat, stay, fight and return) exceed that of all potential threat fighter aircraft. It can locate targets in all weather conditions and detect low flying aircraft in radar ground clutter. In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles (860 kilometers), deliver its weapons with superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to its starting point. An all-weather capability allows it to accurately deliver ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions.
At the same time, Lockheed Martin moved production of the F-16 production line from Fort Worth, Texas, to Greenville, South Carolina, in 2019 to accommodate production of Block 70 aircraft for export consumers.
Since Bahrain’s order in 2018, Lockheed has garnered contracts for eight F-16s for Bulgaria, 14 aircraft for Slovakia, and is working with the U.S. government on a sale of 66 jets for Taiwan.
To date, more than 4,588 produced and operated by 25 countries.