First F-16s Delivered to Morocco, as End-of-the-Line Nears

 - August 8, 2011, 5:30 AM
Lockheed Martin F-16C bound for service with the Royal Moroccan Air Force. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin ferried to Morocco the first four of 24 F-16C/D Block 52s being supplied to the Royal Moroccan Air Force from its Fort Worth, Texas, plant under a 2008 foreign military sale. With those deliveries under way, the company said its F-16 backlog stands at 58 aircraft, sustaining production until mid-2013.

In addition to Morocco, Egypt and Turkey have F-16s on order. Lockheed Martin will supply 20 Block 52 aircraft to Egypt under a contract announced in March 2010. Turkey is taking delivery of 30 new Block 50 F-16s produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries in Turkey. Possible FMS sales to Oman and Iraq, with each country seeking 18 aircraft, remain “active pursuits” that would extend F-16 production beyond 2013, according to Lockheed Martin.

Another potential sale of 66 more F-16C/Ds to Taiwan now awaits an October decision by the Obama administration. Texas senator John Cornyn (R), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, blocked confirmation of a new deputy secretary of state until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed to decide by October 1 on Taiwan’s 2006 request. The administration also will decide on Taiwan’s request to upgrade 145 older F-16A/Bs.

China, which cut military ties with the U.S. after a 2008 arms deal to Taiwan under President George W. Bush, opposes the proposed transaction. Nevertheless, pressure is ramping up on the Obama administration to approve the F-16 sale. An August 1 letter to the President signed by 181 members of Congress states, “In order to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, we believe it is critical for the United States to sell the government of Taiwan all the F-16C/Ds it requires.”

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, based in Arlington, Va., noted, “The F-16 production line in Texas is in need of new export orders, if it is to remain open beyond fall 2013. Over 16,000 jobs nationally are dependent on F-16 production, with a heavy concentration in Florida and Ohio. The bleak unemployment picture in the United States underscores the significance of accepting Taiwan’s request.”