Lockheed Martin receives production contract for new F-16s

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Pakistan's efforts to acquire a new batch of F-16 fighters has passed a key milestone, with Lockheed Martin receiving an almost $500 million contract to produce 18 of the aircraft.

Confirmed on 31 December, the foreign military sale comprises 12 single-seat F-16C Block 52 fighters, plus six two-seat trainers, all of which will be powered by Pratt & Whitney F100 engines. The US Department of Defense says the production programme is worth a total of $498 million.

Islamabad signed a letter of offer and acceptance for its new-build F-16s last October, with the deal also to cover the purchase of secondhand examples and upgrades to its current F-16A/B fleet, which totals 35 aircraft according to Flight's MiliCAS database.

Pakistan in 2006 requested a related package of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons for its F-16C/Ds, but it unclear whether the deal - worth a potential $650 million - has yet been finalised.