The manufacturer Lockheed Martin expects a gap in the slots for the production of F-16s in 2017 said top managers of the company last week.
However, it, for now, will be preserved because of expected international orders for the F-16. Key to possibly restarting the assembly line for the aircraft will be the requirements of the plan to increase production of the new F-35 Lightening II, the production of which in 2019 should reach 120 aircraft annually.
Lockheed wants the assembly line at the plant in Fort Worth for the F-35, which will take the released in 2017 experienced workers from the line for the F-16, to allow, if necessary, for them to return to the old assembly line for the F-16.
So far, Lockheed Martin has produced and delivered more than 4,500 F-16 fighters to 28 users in over 140 modifications. After execution of the order of the Air Force of Iraq, in early 2017, the assembly line should be closed because there are no new orders. However, the company plans to “freeze” the assembly line due to several expected contracts for the F-16 in the next few years.
Currently, the company has made extending the life of F-16 C / D Block 40/50 from 8000 to 12,000 hours. The company accounts trade interest in the latest configuration F-16V Viper, according to Randy Howard, director of the F-16 Program of Lockheed Martin. The company expects at least 3 of its customers to request an upgrade to the standard F-16V for at least 300 fighters in the next 3-4 years.