Lockheed Martin announced that the first F-16 Block 70 fighter jet took to the skies at its Greenville site in South Carolina.
The flight occurred on January 24, 2022, and lasted for about 50 minutes. It included “airworthiness checks, such as engine, flight control, and fuel system checks, as well as basic aircraft handling,” the manufacturer explained in a statement.
“Today’s successful flight is a testament of the hard work, dedication and commitment to our customers and their missions,” said OJ Sanchez, Integrated Fighter Group Vice President and General Manager at Lockheed Martin. “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.”
A new era for Lockheed Martin’s best-selling fighter
The new F-16 Block 70/72, also known as the F-16V (for Viper), features Northrop-Grumman’s AESA AN/APG-83 SABR radar, an “improved performance” (either Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 or General Electric F110-GE-129) engine, a new mission computer, and an all-screen cockpit compatible with night vision goggles, among other upgrades.
Since 2019, Lockheed Martin’s Greenville facility has housed the F-16 Fighting Falcon production line, freeing up space at Fort Worth, Texas, for the F-35 production output increase.
With an official order backlog for 128 aircraft, the manufacturer will produce F-16V fighters for Bahrain, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Taiwan, Morocco, and Jordan. The first F-16 Block 70 to fly is one of the 16 Falcons that will be delivered to Bahrain, hence its livery.