(NSI News Source Info) FARNBOROUGH, England - July 26, 2010: The versions of the F-16 being delivered to customers now - and which is in contention for an Indian order for 126 jets - are the most advanced 4th generation multi-role fighter aircraft currently available on the international market, its manufacturer Lockheed Martin said Wednesday.
"The F-16 continues as a modern, highly capable, affordable and supportable fighter. The programme is healthy and active, with firm production through 2013 and a strong likelihood of new orders that will extend the line for several more years," Bill McHenry, director of business development for F-16 programmes, told reporters at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Aircraft now being produced for Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco and Egypt are the advanced Block 50/52 F-16 C/D configuration. The United Arab Emirates was the launch customer for the Block 60 F-16 E/F version, which is the platform for the proposed variant called the F-16IN Super Viper for the Indian Air Force’s medium multi-role combat aircraft competition. A decision on this is likely later this year.
McHenry also added that there is a backlog of 86 F-16s, including a recent order from Egypt for 20 advanced Block 50/52 aircraft, the sixth follow-on buy for this country.
More than 4,450 F-16s have been delivered worldwide since the programme’s inception more than 30 years ago - including 53 follow-on buys by 14 countries.
In addition to the F-16 production programmes, Lockheed Martin continues to develop the F-16 for the future by integrating advanced technologies through upgrade programmes for existing F-16s to ensure interoperability with the world’s only 5th generation fighters - the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.
"This integration of advanced technologies for fielded and new aircraft provides an opportunity for F-16 operators to benefit from the latest developments in technology and capabilities for fighter aircraft," McHenry said.
"This synergy will parallel technology and provide a natural bridge from the 4th generation of fighters to the 5th generation," he added.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 136,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.