Nearly 50 years after the first F-16 was born, the production line of this aircraft is still running at full capacity to supply customers.
According to Military Watch, Lockheed Martin, the largest US arms manufacturer, has announced the opening of a new F-16 Fighting Falcon production line, in Greenville, South Carolina. Lockheed Martin won a contract worth $14 billion. By 2026, 128 new F-16 fighters will be delivered to foreign customers, including Bahrain, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Taiwan. Half of these will be delivered to Taiwan. This is an extremely important contract in helping Lockheed Martin continue to maintain the F-16 production line.
The F-16 made its first flight in 1974 and joined the US Air Force in 1978. Remember, three years ago, Lockheed Martin’s older production line in Fort Worth, Texas was closed. With new orders, the F-16 is the most produced 4th generation fighter, serving in the most countries. Currently, the F-16 and F-15 are the two oldest fighters still in production in the world, with a history of nearly 50 years.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is classified as a light fighter, with low operating and maintenance costs. For various reasons, mainly political, some countries are forced to buy F-16s, rather than more modern fighters like the F-35, or Su-35. The batch of F-16V fighters is expected to be assembled on the new production line in Greenville in 2022, and there will likely be more orders for this fighter, so that the line can continue to operate until after 2027.
Currently, some countries have begun to retire early versions of the F-16A/B, such as Egypt and Israel, while countries like Thailand and Iraq may soon be equipped with new versions of the F-16. The US Air Force also converted some old F-16s into UAVs.
As of the end of 2020, more than 4,600 F-16s have been produced. Although the design of this aircraft has been around for a long time, the price of the F-16V is still extremely expensive. It is even significantly more expensive than the Russian Su-35 heavy fighter. Paying tens of millions of dollars for an F-16, almost no changes to the airframe, an old F110 engine, and a high radar cross section; However, it is still attractive to many countries to buy and continue to use.