Lockheed Martin has announced the successful first flight of the F-16 Block 70 at its Greenville, South Carolina site.
The flight occurred yesterday with Lockheed Martin test pilots Dwayne "Pro" Opella and Monessa "Siren" Balzhiser.
Total flight time was approximately 50 minutes and included airworthiness checks, such as engine, flight control and fuel system checks, as well as basic aircraft handling.
The company opened a new production line in Greenville in 2021 to support the growing demand from partner nations.
On behalf of five foreign military partners, the US Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin approximately $14bn to build 128 F-16s at the facility through to 2026.
"Today's successful flight is a testament of the hard work, dedication and commitment to our customers and their missions," said OJ Sanchez, vice president, integrated fighter group, which includes the F-16 programme. "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."
This F-16 Block 70 jet is the first of 16 jets to be delivered to Bahrain. Six countries have selected Block 70/72 aircraft.
In addition to the current official backlog of 128 jets to-date to be built in Greenville, Jordan last year signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for eight jets and last week signed an additional LOA for four more jets. Lockheed Martin has received a contract to begin Jordan's long-lead activities.
Bulgaria has also signed an LOA for an additional eight jets for its fleet. Once these are finalised, the backlog will increase to 148.
"Lockheed Martin is fully committed to delivering quality platforms for our customers' critical missions, and I am so proud of our talented team in Greenville," said Danya Trent, F-16 vice president and site lead in Greenville. "This is the culmination of significant development, design, digital engineering, supply chain and production line advances to an already proven platform that will continue to deliver decades of service in support of customers' national security."