PZL Mielec, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin and a stalwart of Polish aviation, is celebrating an achievement as it wraps up production on the first rear fuselage structure for the F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jet.
These crafted F-16 components will reach Lockheed Martin’s final assembly line in Greenville, South Carolina, supporting European and Middle Eastern customer demands.
The production of F-16 Block 70/72 structures at PZL Mielec unfolds within a modernised hall spanning 14,000 square meters.
PZL Mielec is also to build all major assemblies for the F-16. This includes the rear fuselage, centre fuselage, cockpit structure, forward equipment bay, and cockpit side panel. PZL Mielec completed the aft and forward sections of the aircraft’s centre fuselage in March this year.
An example of a European nation to have declared its interest in the F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets is Slovakia, to whom the US will provide 14 of the aircraft.
Janusz Zakrętcki, President and CEO of PZL Mielec, expressed his enthusiasm: “I am glad that Lockheed Martin appreciated the competence of our employees and the potential of this place and decided to locate the production of F-16 structures here. It is also proof of Lockheed Martin’s commitment to the development of PZL Mielec and the industrial potential of our country.”
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The F-16 fighter jets hold a strategic reputation as a choice for nations seeking fourth-generation multi-role aircraft. These aircraft foster regional and global partnerships, all while ensuring cost-effective operations. In the ever-evolving landscape of 21st-century security, the F-16 stands as a pillar, enabling air superiority and the execution of missions worldwide.
Orlando Sanchez, Vice President and General Manager of the Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin commented, “Collaboration on the F-16 program in Poland is a testament to our commitment to supporting the potential of the domestic industry.”
He added, “Today’s event, the completion of the first structure of the rear fuselage section of the F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft, is the culmination of the work that began in 2021. Through technology transfer and development of employee competences, we helped PZL Mielec return to the tradition of producing fighter planes.”
Ukrainian pilots are training to fly the F-16. The Netherlands, Denmark and the US have joined forces to lead this programme. Lockheed Martin, Romania’s Ministry of Defence and the Netherlands’s Ministry of Defence have recently announced their intention to establish an F-16 pilot training centre in Romania, where Ukrainian pilots may be trained.
The Netherlands have loaned F-16s to the training centre in Romania, Norway have donated F-16s to Ukraine, and Denmark to assist Ukraine in its operations against Russia, with the airspace above eastern Ukraine heavily contested.