Aerial Warfare

Lockheed Martin Delivers First Two F-16 Block 70 Aircraft for Slovak Air Force

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Lockheed Martin Delivers First Two F-16 Block 70 Aircraft for Slovak Air Force

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Lockheed Martin Delivers First Two F-16 Block 70 Aircraft for Slovak Air Force
Lockheed Martin Delivers First Two F-16 Block 70 Aircraft for Slovak Air Force

Lockheed Martin is proud to announce the successful delivery of the first two Slovak Air Force F-16 Block 70 jets. These advanced aircraft represent not only a leap in technology but also a firm commitment to enhancing Slovakia’s national security. These F-16 Block 70 jets, proudly manufactured in Greenville, South Carolina, are a testament to advanced engineering and technology. With a current backlog of 135 jets, the production line serves as a cornerstone of national security, offering state-of-the-art F-16 fighter jet capabilities to allies worldwide. Furthermore, Bulgaria has signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for an additional eight jets for its fleet. Once the agreement is finalized, the backlog will increase by eight. Deliveries for Slovakia will continue through 2025, and the first group of jets, known as a ferry cell, is expected to arrive in Slovakia mid-2024.

OJ Sanchez, vice president and general manager of the Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin, emphasized the significance of this delivery: “The delivery of the first two F-16 Block 70 jets to Slovakia signifies a crucial starting point in bolstering the country’s defense capabilities. We are proud to be part of this endeavor and are committed to delivering a total of 14 jets to Slovakia. The integration of this proven platform will allow the Slovak Air Force to effectively safeguard its borders and partner with allies across Europe, NATO, and the world. We stand committed to our mission of advancing 21st Century Security through cost-effective operations and strategic partnerships, ensuring the safety and well-being of U.S. allies.”

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Lockheed Martin is proud to announce the successful delivery of the first two of fourteen Slovakian F-16 Block 70 jets.
Lockheed Martin is proud to announce the successful delivery of the first two of fourteen Slovakian F-16 Block 70 jets. (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

Slovakia had been looking to replace its aging fleet of MiG-29s since at least 2014, when an option of leasing Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters was considered. A possible proposal was finalized in December 2015. However, by June 2016, the deal was rejected due to concerns over cost. Following this, a new round of negotiations was opened. In February 2018, it was reported that Slovakia was in talks to buy either the F-16 or the Gripen fighter jets. In April 2018, the Slovak Ministry of Defence received an offer for F-16 fighters, amounting to $2.91 billion, from the US Department of Defense. On 11 July 2018, the Government of Slovakia approved the purchase of 14 F-16 Block 70/72 fighters for 1.589 billion euros ($1.86 billion).

In November 2018, the Slovak Ministry of Defence announced it had placed an order for 14 F-16Vs for €1.6 billion. Soon after however, the country’s Prime Minister went on record to say the contracts were “invalid”, stating the documents had not been approved by the Ministry of Finance. It was rapidly revealed that the inability of the ministries to cooperate was due to political rivalries, and the F-16 purchase had caused a minor political crisis in Slovakia. On 12 December 2018, the contract to acquire 12 single-seat and two twin-seat F-16 Block 70/72s was officially signed by Slovakian Minister of Defense Peter Gajdos. The first aircraft to arrive into service are scheduled as soon as 2022.

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