Lockheed Martin today announced the successful first flight of the F-16 Block 70 at its Greenville, South Carolina site. The flight occurred Jan. 24 at 9:17 a.m. ET, with Lockheed Martin test pilots Dwayne “Pro” Opella and Monessa “Siren” Balzhiser at the helm. Total flight time was approximately 50 minutes and included airworthiness checks, such as engine, flight control and fuel system checks, as well as basic aircraft handling. This F-16 Block 70 jet is the first of 16 jets to be delivered to Bahrain. Six countries have selected Block 70/72 aircraft. In addition to the current official backlog of 128 jets to-date to be built in Greenville, Jordan last year signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for eight jets and last week signed an additional LOA for four more jets. Lockheed Martin has received a contract to begin Jordan’s long-lead activities. Bulgaria has also signed an LOA for an additional eight jets for its fleet. Once these are finalized, the backlog will increase to 148.
“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. 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,” said Danya Trent, F-16 Vice President and Site Lead in Greenville.
“Today’s successful flight is a testament of the hard work, dedication and commitment to our customers and their missions. 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,” said OJ Sanchez, vice president, Integrated Fighter Group, which includes the F-16 program.
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,600 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976. Although no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are being built for export customers. The F-16 is a strategic and valuable choice for many customers around the world seeking advanced, 4th generation fighter aircraft capabilities, regional and worldwide partnerships, and affordable lifecycle costs. More than 3,000 F-16s are operating today in 25 countries. The F-16 has flown an estimated 19.5 million flight hours and at least 13 million sorties. Today’s latest version, the Block 70/72, offers unparalleled capabilities and will be flown by at least five countries beginning in the mid-2020s.
The Lockheed Corporation was an American aerospace manufacturer. Lockheed was founded in 1926 and in 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta. Its founder, Allan Lockheed, had earlier founded the similarly named but otherwise-unrelated Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company, which was operational from 1912 to 1920. Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 114,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.