Lockheed Martin inaugurated its new F-16 production line in Greenville, South Carolina shifting F-16 tooling and equipment previously in Fort Worth,Texas which will be used for assembling the F-35.
Lockheed had previously offered to shift the production line to India if it ordered over 100 F-16 jets and make it a manufacturing base for the F-16’s global supply chain.
The equipment has been installed in a newly-refurbished hangar in Greenville, where the company will begin manufacturing F-16 Block 70 aircraft later this year, a Lockheed Martin release said.
"This is an exciting time as we celebrate another important milestone for the F-16," said Michele Evans, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. 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 December 2018 for 14 Block 70 aircraft, and Bulgaria and the US Government are currently negotiating Bulgaria's planned acquisition of new F-16 Block 70 aircraft.
The US State Department also recently approved the proposed sale of 25 new production F-16 Block 72 aircraft and F-16V upgrades for Morocco.
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.