Lockheed Martin’s Poland unit PZL Mielec has been selected to manufacture major assemblies for the F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft programme.

As a manufacturing partner for the programme, PZL Mielec will produce the rear fuselage, centre fuselage, cockpit structure, forward equipment bay, as well as cockpit side panel.

This work will sustain nearly 200 jobs and create some 60 new jobs.

Lockheed Martin Poland, Central and East Europe director Robert Orzylowski said: “Today’s announcement underlines our commitment to PZL Mielec and to growing Lockheed Martin’s industrial footprint in Poland, where we currently employ around 1,600 people directly and sustain work for more than 5,000 others in the Polish supply chain.”

PZL Mielec was last involved in the manufacture of fighter aircraft during the 1960s.

The unit will start production next year and export the aerostructures to Lockheed Martin’s final assembly factory in Greenville, South Carolina, US.

For the past 15 years, Poland has been operating F-16s in its own fleet.

Lockheed Martin F-16 programme vice-president Danya Trent: “The F-16 remains a critical part of the Polish Air Force.

“This new production work at PZL Mielec will further ensure Poland is part of the F-16 global enterprise for many years to come.”

Lockheed Martin noted that it already has F-16 Block 70/72 orders in place from five customers. It is also seeing growing interest from global customers for new-build production aircraft and for F-16V upgrades.

Poland is also procuring 32 F-35s and will receive the first F-35 in 2024.

Orzylowski added: “Poland’s acquisition of the F-35 opened the door for a further expansion of this relationship and helped enable today’s exciting announcement.”