GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–A big announcement came out of Lockheed Martin on Tuesday, and its one that will generate hundreds of jobs in the Upstate.
The company announced it will be manufacturing a new fighter jet for the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Bahrain will be Lockheed Martin’s first customer in the world to purchase the new Block 70 F-16 fighter jets. The 16 jets will be completed in late 2021.
“We are extremely proud the the world’s first Block 70 F-16 fighter jet and the first Greenville made F-16 will be for the Royal Bahrain Airforce,” Susan Outz, Vice President of F-16 Programs at Lockheed Martin, said.
The announcement was made with the help of Gov. Henry McMaster.
“Because of the strength of our people, we’re attracting friends and neighbors from all over world to do business with us,” McMaster said.
He exchanged gifts and well wishes with Ambassador Shaikh Abdullah of Bahrain.
“We are very excited to be the first country to employ the new Block 70,” Ambassador Abdullah said.
Bahrain will be the first country in the world to receive this newest model of fighter jet.
“This visit marks the next chapter of the F-16 fighting falcons strong legacy of serving our strong allies from around the world,” Mike Fox, the Greenville Site Director for Lockheed Martin, said.
All present agreed this is crucial to national security.
“Peace in the region is peace far beyond the region,” Abdullah said.
“Together we are building a foundation of trust, partnership and security for another four decades,” Bridget Lauderdale, Vice President and General Manager for Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Fighter Group, said.
Not only will the production of these fighter jets help overseas, but it will also boost the local economy.
“This is highly skilled, very well paid, very long-term, very rewarding work,” McMaster said.
Lockheed Martin estimates this contract alone will generate hundreds of jobs for the Upstate. The governor said with the good work being done at Lockheed Martin, and other manufacturing companies in South Carolina, it can only mean more of the same in the future.
“We have a great reputation of being a place where highly skilled people make highly complex and sophisticated things and that’s a good reputation to have,” McMaster said.
In addition to Bahrain, Lockheed Martin will also provide Block 70 F-16 fighter jets to Slovakia and Bulgaria.