Lockheed Martin revealed that the F-16 Block 70 had successfully completed its first flight At its site in Greenville, South Carolina. The flight occurred Jan. 24 at 9:17 a.m. ET, with Lockheed Martin test pilots Dwayne “Pro” Opella and Monessa “Siren” Balzhiser at the helm. 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.
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The F-16 Block 70 is the latest version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a single-engine, supersonic, multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) for the United States Air Force. The Block 70 upgrade includes a range of improvements such as advanced avionics, an active electronically scanned array radar, an enhanced engine, and structural upgrades to extend the aircraft’s service life.
This model of F-16 also includes an advanced electronic warfare suite, an automatic ground collision avoidance system, and a helmet-mounted cueing system. It is intended to serve as a cost-effective, 4th generation fighter aircraft for air forces around the world. In 2019, Taiwan and the United States signed an $8 billion deal that would deliver 66 new-build Block 70 aircraft.
The F-16V will feature enhancements including AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, an upgraded mission computer and architecture, and improvements to the cockpit – all capabilities identified by the U.S. Air Force and several international customers for future improvements.
F16 Block 70/72 aircraft.
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 finalized, 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.”