US defense aerospace giant Lockheed Martin made the announcement Tuesday afternoon in Greenville that they’ll be manufacturing F-16’s and testing them out locally before selling them off to U.S. allies like Bahrain and Slovakia.
F-16 tooling and equipment previously in Fort Worth, Texas, has since been installed in a newly-refurbished hangar in Greenville, where the company will begin manufacturing F-16 Block 70 aircraft later this year.
“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 of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “The future is bright, and it begins right here in Greenville, South Carolina ‒ the new home of F-16 production.”
Demand continues to soar for new production F-16s and F-16V upgrades. Bahrain became the first F-16 Block 70 customer in June 2018, Slovakia signed Letter of Agreement in Dec. 2018 for 14 Block 70 aircraft, and Bulgaria and the U.S. Government are currently negotiating Bulgaria’s planned acquisition of new F-16 Block 70 aircraft. The U.S. State Department also recently approved the proposed sale of 25 new production F-16 Block 72 aircraft and F-16V upgrades for Morocco.
“This is a great day for Greenville and South Carolina,” said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “We have the best workforce in the country and now we are going to build the most advanced F-16 ever right here in the Palmetto State.”
“South Carolina’s workforce is second to none, and the fact that Lockheed Martin continues to invest and put its faith in South Carolinians to build the newest F-16s in Greenville speaks volumes about our state and the company,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. “Every person who calls South Carolina home should be proud that the F-16 is made right here in the Palmetto state.”
More than 400 new jobs will be created to support the F-16 production line in Greenville. F-16 production also supports hundreds of U.S.-based Lockheed Martin engineering, procurement, sustainment and customer support jobs and thousands of U.S. supplier jobs. A significant portion of F-16 production occurs in the supply chain, which currently includes more than 400 U.S. suppliers in 41 states.
To date, 4,588 F-16s have been produced, and there are approximately 3,000 operational F-16s are in service today in 25 countries.
— Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin) April 23, 2019