GREENVILLE Co., S.C. (WSPA) — Lockheed Martin is adding more foreign allies to its list of clients. The latest, Taiwan, is looking to buy fighter jets that will be made here in the Upstate.
The F-16 is the world’s most successful combat proven multirole fighter. A plane with this prestige and economic force can’t help but give a boost to wherever it’s built.
Starting December 2019, that location will be Greenville County.
”I think it’s a testament to Greenville County’s workforce that we can build the most advanced aircraft in the world here in Greenville,” said Mark Farris, President and CEO of Greenville Area Development Corporation.
He says the customers of the $121 million planes bring a wider scope of attention to the Upstate.
A Lockheed spokesperson told us over the phone the plan is to make roughly 200 planes over the next decade.
“They’re all going to be going to foreign militaries customers, so our allies all across the world. We are currently on contract with Bahrain and we’re going to building 16 jets for them. Slovakia also just signed their contract, there are 14 that we’re going to be building. And we are in conversations with a lot of other different customers, a lot of other different countries,” said Leslie Farmer with Lockheed Martin.
In a tweet, Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed 66 jets will go to Taiwan.
The final deal with Taiwan must be approved by Congress but at this point it has bipartisan support.
”It just cements the fact that Greenville County is an international location and we’ll see more of this type of activity in the near future,” Farris said.
Lockheed Martin says the first jets should come off the assembly line by the end of 2021.