Lockheed Martin Promised a Base for Repairs to the F-16 in Bulgaria
Lockheed Martin will open a base for maintenance, partial and complete renovation (MRO facility) in Bulgaria, said Jim Robinson, "International Business Development for the F-16 in the US company. This means that Bulgarian aircraft can be maintained in Bulgaria by local engineers and technicians throughout the duration of their 12,000 hours of flight hours.
The company discusses a number of other possibilities for partnership with the Bulgarian industry and the possible participation of the local academic institutions in research and development programs, it became clear from his words.
When will the fighters come?
"A lot of false information has emerged, often from people who have not participated directly in the talks, about our ability to deliver the new F-16 Block 70 within the timeframe that meets the needs of the Bulgarian Air Force," said Jim Robinson.
The aircraft for Bahrain, Slovakia and Bulgaria will be among the first to be built in the new facility in Greenville. Assuming that the contract is signed this summer, we plan to start training the Bulgarian pilots and ground staff in the US no later than 2021 and deliver the first Bulgarian F-16 before 2023, "he added.
The choice of F-16 Block 72 from Morocco and another operator in the Asia region will accelerate plans to start production of new fighter jets that are important for Bulgaria and deliver the first airplane at the end of 2022.
In a statement made just two weeks before the cut-off ceremony for the opening of Lockheed Martin's new F-16 production line in Greenville, South Carolina, Robinson said that while the recent orders increase the company's load, the new plant is now available to lift its production capacity to meet customer needs.
In addition to the new F-16 fighters for Europe, the Greek Air Force announced plans to modernize 85 aircraft from its F-16 fleet to the Viper standard. This standard is similar to the new block 70/72, but without the benefits of 12,000 flight hours.
Poland, the first Central and Eastern European country to elect the F-16, is also considering modernizing its current fleet. Romania looks at the possibility of acquiring more aircraft, and Croatia re-evaluates the needs of its air defense.
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