A significant step in European defence was achieved as Lockheed Martin unveiled the first F-16 Block 70 aircraft destined for the Slovak Republic. 

This event unfolded at Lockheed Martin’s Greenville, South Carolina facility, graced by the Slovak Republic’s Minister of Defence, Martin Sklenár.

Six countries have selected Block 70/72 aircraft. Some of these include Jordan, Bahrain, and the Philippines. The Royal Bahraini Air Force received Bahrain’s first F-16 Block 70 aircraft in March this year at Lockheed Martin in Greenville, South Carolina. 

In a noteworthy distinction, the Slovak Republic emerges as the maiden European nation to embrace the latest and most advanced iteration of the Fighting Falcon, the F-16 Block 70. With a commitment to delivering 21st-century security capabilities, this acquisition shows the Slovak Republic’s dedication to safeguarding its national security interests.

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OJ Sanchez, Vice President of the integrated fighter group at Lockheed Martin, commented on the transformative potential of these F-16 Block 70s, stating, “These F-16s will enable the Slovak Air Force to stay ahead of threats in the region and be part of the allied mission in Europe, NATO, and around the world. This jet represents the strong partnership between Lockheed Martin, the United States, the Slovak Republic, and allies.”

Over the forecast period, Lockheed Martin Corp is to account for the highest revenue share, $62.8 billion, in the European region. It is set to hold a 23.4% share of the European market, according to GlobalData’s “The Global Military Fixed Wing Aircraft Market 2023-2033” report. 

This F-16 Block 70 aircraft represents the inaugural unit of a fleet of 14 scheduled for delivery to the Slovak Republic, signifying the commencement of an era defined by enhanced security, advanced capabilities, and strengthened international partnerships.

According to GlobalData’s “Slovakia Defense Market 2022-2027” report, the delivery of these aircraft has experienced minor delays, but all 14 airframes are expected to be with the Slovak Air Force by 2026. It constitutes the single largest procurement project underway for the Slovak military.

This delivery is set to replace the Slovak Air Force’s fleet of ageing MiG-29 jets currently in service. These Soviet-designed aircraft have undergone some modernisation but remain legacy airframes significantly different from the types of aircraft that Slovakia’s NATO allies operate.