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Why the F-16 fighter jet remains a force to be reckoned with

16th March 2023 - 15:00 GMT | by Norbert Neumann in London


The F-16 Block 70/72 is the latest and most sought-after version of the fighter. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jet is still in the limelight over 40 years after its first flight. Shephard sums up the latest developments and tells you everything you need to know about the aircraft in the 2020s.

First and foremost, the list of countries that would like to get their hands on the jet constantly grows. This includes Ukraine, as the invaded Eastern European country is seeking Western fast jets.

The seemingly impossible US-Turkish deal involving 40 F-16 Block 70/72 fighters and nearly 80 modernisation equipment also serves as a regular reminder about the desirability of the jet.

The F-16 is so popular that Lockheed Martin is currently wrestling with a backlog of 128 fighters which is set to increase to 148 soon as new deals are finalised.

Turkish-US F-16 deal remains in deadlock

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CAE to build F-16 Block 70 sims for Taiwan

F-16V Block 70/72F-16C/D Block 50/52/52+F-16E/F Block 60
TitleF-16V Block 70/72F-16C/D Block 50/52/52+F-16E/F Block 60
CategoriesFixed-wing aircraftFixed-wing aircraftFixed-wing aircraft
SubcategoriesFighter - multiroleFighter - multiroleFighter - multirole
SuppliersLockheed MartinLockheed Martin, Turkish AerospaceLockheed Martin
Manufacturer CountryUSAUSA, TURKEYUSA
Total Ordered14077580
Total DeliveredU77580
Unit Cost (US$)63000000.0034000000.00U
First Delivery Date202119912004
Out Of Service DateU20312036
StatusIn productionIn productionIn production
Entry URL
Length 1 (overall)15.03m15m15m
Width 1 (overall)9.45m9.45m31m
Height 1 (overall)5.09m5.13m5.09m
Weight 1 (overall)21.77t17.88t21.77t
Speed 1 (maximum)1,303.46kt1,303.46kt1,303.46kt
No. of engines111
Range 1 (overall travel)U3,222.48km3,200km
Effective AltitudeU50,524.93ft50,000ft
Service lifeU12,0008,000

The different F-16 variants compared. This data has been verified by the same team that brings you Defence Insight. Want to learn more?

The F-16 Block 70/72

The F-16 Block 70/72, also referred to as the F-16V, is the latest and most sought-after version of the fighter – although Ukraine would receive an older version if the transfer of NATO fighter jets were to be approved. It is a fourth-generation multirole aircraft, targeted primarily at export customers.

The Block 70/72 features: advanced avionics; an APG-83 AESA radar; a modernised cockpit; conformal fuel tanks; an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System; a centre pedestal display providing tactical imagery to pilots on a high-resolution 6x8in screen; and an extended structural service life of 12,000h.

Lockheed Martin developed the F-16V as an advanced fighter alternative that could leverage its existing production infrastructure and global support network. According to the manufacturer, structural and capability upgrades ensure that the F-16 can fly and fight up to 2070 and beyond, which is 50% longer than the previous production of F-16 aircraft.

Although the company has experienced difficulties with the production of the aircraft in recent years, Lockheed Martin recently said the build rate will increase significantly throughout 2023.

‘We continue to take proactive measures in partnership with the US government, our suppliers, and our international partners to maximise production efficiency, including adding tooling and other resources to meet current programme needs and future opportunities for new-production F-16s,’ Lockheed Martin VP of F-16 programmes and Greenville site lead Danya Trent told Shephard in January 2023.

Customers of the fourth-generation jet include Bahrain, Bulgaria, Greece, Jordan, South Korea, Slovakia and Taiwan, with some still awaiting final approval of their F-16 deal.

Additionally, the Indonesian Air Force announced plans to procure two squadrons through its 2020-24 strategic plan in 2019. A Foreign Military Sale (FMS) case was expected to be approved in January 2020 with a contract award by the end of the year. 

However, Indonesia later opted for the Dassault Rafale as replacement of its Hawk fleet in service. 

The Philippines is also considering the procurement of the F-16V under its $1.1 billion multirole fighter procurement programme.

In September 2021, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that it has resumed the production of F-16 wings for Lockheed Martin, using the assembly line established in the 1980s, following increased worldwide demand for the F-16 Block 70/72.

IAI will produce wings that will be shipped to the F-16 final assembly line in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.

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Norbert Neumann


Norbert Neumann

Norbert is the Military Training & Simulation reporter at Shephard Media. Before joining Shephard in …

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