Greenville to manufacture, export F-16s to U.S. allies around the world

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GREENVILLE, SC – New fighter jets will soon be made in the Upstate and shipped overseas.

Lockheed Martin made the announcement Tuesday afternoon in Greenville that they’ll be manufacturing F-16’s and testing them out locally before selling them off to U.S. allies like Bahrain and Slovakia. 

“We want to keep the war over there so it doesn’t come here, and we want to fight it with partners and not by ourselves,” said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. “The jets that we’re selling our allies are going to make war less likely because it will be a dominant presence, it will deter the enemies of the world and the United States.” 

Senator Lindsey Graham, Governor Henry McMaster and a handfull of other prominent South Carolina politicians attended the ribbon cutting to congratulate Lockheed Martin on the deal.

According to Dr. Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, F-16 production was based in Fort Worth, Texas before coming to South Carolina.

He added that the move should create about 400 jobs locally. 

Michael Fox, Greenville Site Director for Lockheed Martin explained that parts would be shipped in from all over the world, but as for how much production will cost, said a monetary amount was contingent on aircraft customization. 

“There’s different models. They buy different upgrades to it so they can really vary in costs,” he told 7 News. 

The first F-19 is expected to be produced beginning in November, with a completion date of 2021.

Greenville Technical College which expanded its aircraft maintenance program a few years ago, intends to continue providing training for future Lockheed Martin employees, especially with the F-19 production addition to operations. 

“That long partnership that we’ve had is going to grow even closer over the years,” said Keith Miller, President of Greenville Technical College. 

Currently there about 3,000 F-16’s in use in 25 countries around the world, according to Lockheed Martin.

 

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