Lockheed Martin moving F-16 production to SC

F-16 pilot from the 169th Fighter Wing, South Carolina Air National Guard flies a training mission in the KIWI MOA airspace over the coast of North Carolina.

Lockheed Martin is moving F-16 fighter jet production from Texas to Greenville, S.C.

News media outlets report the company is moving production of the warplane nicknamed the Fighting Falcon to Greenville.

Representatives with Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth say moving production of F-16s to SC will help increase production locally of F-35s, adding almost 2,000 jobs by 2020. "The space we use for the F-16 will be consumed by the F-35".

The move is expected to create about 250 jobs in Greenville.

Defense One reported that the United States has not purchased F-16s since 1999, but Lockheed Martin has orders from several other countries.

Erickson said Lockheed's Greenville complex could wind up making more F-16s than just the 19 proposed to be sold to Bahrain.

Lockheed's plan for the multibillion-dollar Air Force contract is to import the existing T50A trainer jet from South Korea, where it's manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries, and assemble the pieces at its local complex, adding 200 jobs.

Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Leslie Farmer says the last F-16 in Texas should be complete in September.

The policy shift has put a big questions mark over Lockheed Martin's and also Boeing's pitch to manufacture the F-16 and the F/A-18 aircraft in India under the "Make in India" Program.

Secondly, the Greenville plant is where the new T-50A trainer will be built if it wins a competition to build the aircraft for the Air Force.

Lockheed Martin now maintains and modifies different air frames at its Greenville County facility. It is expected they will transition to the F-35, the newspaper reported. Last year, Lockheed built about 50 F-35s and expects to build up to 160 a year by 2019.

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