Procurement: F-16 Production Finally Winds Down


April 13, 2012: Production of the American F-16 fighter has hit 4,500. For the last decade nearly all new F-16s have gone to the export market. Thus F-16 number 4,500 is headed for Morocco, as has about half of all F-16 production. Nearly 80 percent of all F-16s were manufactured at one plant in Texas, with the rest built overseas in several locations, largely from American made parts. About 68 percent of all F-16s built are still in use.

Many nations are planning to retire their F-16s and replace them with F-35s, which will begin arriving before the end of the decade. There is already a very active market for used F-16s (as a result of the Cold War ending in 1991, and much subsequent disarmament). Because of all this, F-16 production will probably cease in four or five years. Currently there are only 70 on order. Entering service in 1978, the F-16 will probably end up remaining in service 40 years and possibly 50 years.

The U.S. F-16 is also one of the most modified jet fighters in service. While most are still called the F-16C, there are actually six major mods, identified by block number (32, 40, 42, 50, 52, 60), plus the Israeli F-16I, which is a major modification of the Block 52. The other special version (the Block 60), for the UAE, is called the F-16E. The various block mods included a large variety of new components (five engines, four sets of avionics, five generations of electronic warfare gear, five radars and many other mechanical, software, cockpit, and electrical mods). The F-16 is the most numerous post-Cold War jet fighter, with at least 4,570 built or on order. During The Cold War Russia built over 10,000 MiG-21s and the U.S over 5,000 F-4s, but since 1991, warplane manufacturing has plummeted about 90 percent. The F-16 was one of the few Cold War era fighters to buck that trend.



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