Lockheed Martin has successfully carried out the first flight demonstration of the F-16 Block 70 aircraft from its production site in Greenville, South Carolina, US.

Conducted on 24 January, the flight lasted for 50 minutes. It aimed to assess and validate airworthiness, basic aircraft handling, engine, flight control and fuel system of new Block 70 aircraft.

Lockheed Martin Integrated Fighter Group vice-president OJ Sanchez said: “This milestone demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s commitment to advancing this programme and getting much-needed aircraft and its advanced 21st century security capabilities to warfighters.”

The latest test was conducted with the first of 16 F-16 Block 70 jets to be delivered to Bahrain, as part of a $1.12bn foreign military sale deal, approved by the US in 2018.

Bahrain was the first country to sign the Block 70 aircraft deal with the US. Later, six more nations including Slovakia, Bulgaria and Jordan selected this configuration of the aircraft. 

Currently, Lockheed Martin has an official backlog of 128 jets to be built at its Greenville production line.  

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The company has already received a contract to commence long-lead activities for Jordan. An initial letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) for eight F-16s was signed by Jordan in 2022, while another LOA for four more aircraft was signed last week.

Bulgaria has also finalised a LOA for eight additional F-16 aircraft. All the recent signings will further increase the total backlog to 148.

Lockheed Martin F-16 programme vice-president and Greenville site lead Danya Trent said: “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.”