Lockheed Martin is shifting production of its F-16 fighter jets to Greenville from its existing Fort Worth, Texas facility effectively burying its plans to move the production line to India.
“Lockheed Martin is moving production of its F-16 fighter jets from its existing Fort Worth, Texas facility to Greenville primarily for economic reasons,” Leslie Farmer, spokesperson for Lockheed's Greenville operations was quoted as saying by the Greenville News Wednesday.
Lockheed plans to use its Fort Worth, Texas plant to produce the fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that the United States Air Force is transitioning to.
Farmer said the last F-16 from the Fort Worth plant will be delivered in September, and it will take about two years for the company to get production going at its Greenville facility at the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center, or SCTAC.
Farmer said Lockheed already has a hangar that can be set up to move the F-16 production line into, so no new construction will be needed.
Rick Groesch, Lockheed’s regional vice president at the IDEX 2017 show in Abu Dhabi in February said, "The next customer that we sell F-16 to, we will build them in the US."
Lockheed Martin has in the past assembled F-16s in Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands in the past. However with the arrival of the Donald Trump administration with its focus on keeping American jobs at home, US companies have to rework their export strategies, he had said.
The policy shift has put a big questions mark over Lockheed Martin’s and also Boeing’s pitch to manufacture the F-16 and the F/A-18 aircraft in India under the ‘Make in India’ Program. Both companies are in contention to manufacture single engine (F-16) and twin engine (F/A-18) jets in India to meet Indian Air Force requirements as well as to export them from India.