GREENVILLE, S.C. ‒ Lockheed Martin hosted a ceremony April 23 to celebrate its new F-16 production line in Greenville, South Carolina. 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.
More than 600 people attended the event, including South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, Dr. Peter Navarro, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy; Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, members of the South Carolina Congressional delegation, Lockheed Martin leaders and Greenville employees.
“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.”
From South Carolina to the world
F-16 production in Greenville enables Lockheed Martin to meet the growing international demand for new F-16s and increase F-35 production in Fort Worth, Texas. F-16 production orders between now and the mid-2020s, potentially even longer, will be completed in Greenville.
F-16 production also positions the F-16 and Greenville for growth. Approximately 400 new jobs will be created to support the production line in Greenville, nearly doubling Greenville’s current workforce of 500 highly-skilled and experienced employees.
Demand continues to soar for new production F-16s. 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, and discussions are also ongoing with multiple other potential customers about new production F-16s and F-16V upgrades.
‘A great day for Greenville and South Carolina’
Senior elected officials from South Carolina attended the April 23 event and spoke proudly about their state’s new connection to the F-16.
“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.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina echoed the Governor’s sentiment. “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,” said Sen. Graham, who also spoke at the event. “This is a great day for Greenville and South Carolina.”
Graham also had a message for America’s adversaries. “I tell you who this is not a happy day for ‒ all of the bad guys in the world.”
The F-16 remains the world’s most successful, combat-proven 4th generation fighter. 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. The F-16 Block 70/72 is the newest and most advanced F-16 production configuration, combining numerous capability and structural upgrades.
Lockheed Martin sees F-16 production opportunities totaling more than 200 aircraft. That’s great news for America and its allies around the world.