Lockheed Martin has carried out the maiden flight of Slovakia’s first F-16 fighter jet in the latest Block 70 configuration.
According to the company, the flight occurred on September 29 at its Greenville, South Carolina, production facility.
The maiden flight allowed the manufacturer to test multiple systems and validate the aircraft’s performance and supersonic capabilities.
First Flight Alert!
We carried out a successful flight of the first Slovakian F-16 Block 70 aircraft. Slovakia will be the first European country to receive the F-16 Block 70, enabling our allies to stay ahead of threats in the region. pic.twitter.com/SVMkotzWwE
— Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin) October 2, 2023
Lockheed Martin Vice President OJ Sanchez said the test was a significant step in assuring the fighter jet’s capabilities needed by the Slovak Air Force.
“The integration of this proven platform will allow the Slovak Air Force to effectively safeguard its borders and partner with allies across Europe, NATO, and the world,” he added.
A total of 14 F-16 Block 70 aircraft will be handed over to Bratislava by January 2024 as part of an $800-million contract awarded in 2018.
Slovakia will become the first European nation to receive and operate the latest F-16 variant.
‘Advanced, 21st Century Capabilities’
Lockheed’s F-16 Block 70 is reportedly the most sought-after configuration of the multi-role fighter due to its state-of-the-art components.
It features modern avionics, radar, an automatic collision avoidance system, and a new center pedestal display that provides high-resolution tactical imagery to pilots.
Additionally, the jet boasts a 50 percent increase in service life over earlier production configurations, allowing it to remain operational until 2070 and beyond.
It can reach 1,500 miles (2,414 kilometers) per hour, according to the developer.
“The F-16 Block 70 offers allies and partners advanced 21st Century security capabilities, affordable operating and lifecycle costs, and strategic partnership opportunities,” Sanchez said.
He added that Slovakia will rely on the warplane “for peacekeeping within their own borders and those of their partners.”
Apart from Bratislava, recent customers of the F-16 Block 70 include Jordan and Bulgaria.