Brought to my attention by Earl Belz and Tim Murphy, two readers of The Aviation Geek Club, the interesting photo in this post shows an Iraqi Air Force F-16 which actually is the last Viper ever to be produced at Fort Worth.
As we have explained in fact, Lockheed Martin has decided to move the F-16 production line from Forth Worth, to Greenville, South Carolina at the end of the year.
Company spokesman Ken Ross said this will free up more space for the F-35 line.
Actually even if the Viper has been a mainstay of Lockheed Martin’s mile-long production line, the Fort Worth plant needs more room as the F-35 Lightning II production ramps up, he explained. Currently, 8,800 employees work on the F-35 and about 200 work on the F-16, with the latter who are expected to transition to work on the F-35.
“As part of our effort to make room for the F-35 production here in Fort Worth, the F-16 production line must be relocated,” Ross said.
Until now more than 4,500 F-16s have been delivered, of which 3,600 have been built in Fort Worth. As Ross explained, since the company hasn’t booked any orders for new F-16s beyond those for Iraq, it would take about two years to start it back up in South Carolina once a new order is received.
However the most important reason for migrating the F-16 production line to South Carolina is that Lockheed Martin expects to hire an additional 1,800 employees through 2020 as work on the F-35 stealth fighter hits full production.
In fact the company built about 50 F-35s in 2016 and expects to build up to 160 a year by 2019.
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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