Lockheed Martin’s PZL Mielec unit has been tapped to build components and assemblies for the F-16 Block 70/72 programme.
From 2022, the Poland-based unit will produce the rear fuselage, centre fuselage, cockpit structure, cockpit side panel, and forward equipment bay for the single-engined fighter, says Lockheed.
The structures will be dispatched to the F-16’s new final assembly line in Greenville, South Carolina. Lockheed adds that the last time PZL Mielec was involved in fighter production was the 1960s.
“Today’s announcement underlines our commitment to PZL Mielec and to growing Lockheed Martin’s industrial footprint in Poland, where we currently employ around 1,600 people directly and sustain work for more than 5,000 others in the Polish supply chain,” says Robert Orzylowski, Lockheed Martin’s director for Poland, Central and East Europe.
“During our 20-plus-year strategic partnership with Poland, we’ve delivered technology transfer, research and development opportunities, long-term sustainable high technology jobs, growth and exports. Poland’s acquisition of the F-35 opened the door for a further expansion of this relationship and helped enable today’s exciting announcement.”
Poland has order plans for 32 F-35s. Cirium fleets data indicates that the Polish air force also operates 48 F-16C/Ds with an average age of 14.2 years.
“The F-16 remains a critical part of the Polish Air Force,” says Danya Trent, Lockheed Martin vice-president, F-16 programme.
“This new production work at PZL Mielec will further ensure Poland is part of the F-16 global enterprise for many years to come.”
At the recent Dubai air show, Lockheed disclosed that it has orders for 128 brand-new F-16s, and sees a total market of 300 or more – including on-order jets.
Lockheed expects to commence deliveries from Greenville next year. The F-16 line in Fort Worth, Texas delivered its last F-16 in 2017.