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US awards contract to Lockheed Martin for production of F-16 fighters for Taiwan and Morocco

According to contract released by the U.S. DoD (Department of Defense) on August 14, 2020, American company Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, has been awarded a $62,000,000,000 ten-year, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ), fixed-price-incentive contract for the new production of F-16 Foreign Military Sale (FMS) aircraft. According to the Bloomberg news agency, this order could include the delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan and Morocco.

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US awards contract to Lockheed Martin for production of F 16 fightersTaiwan and Morocco 925 001 Artist rendering of Lockheed Martin F-17V fighter aircraft. (Picture source Lockheed Martin)

The total value for the initial delivery order is $4,941,105,246 and will be awarded on the same date. The initial delivery order is for 90 aircraft, including both the pre-priced recurring core configuration costs at $2,862,797,674 and the engineering change proposal/undefinitized contract action for the non-recurring costs not-to-exceed $2,078,307,572 obligated at approximately $1,018,370,710.

On 27 February 2019, Taiwan requested to buy 66 new F-16V Block 70/72 airframes for an approximately $13 billion as a replacement for their aging Mirage 2000 and F-5 fighters. On 16 August 2019, the US State Department submitted the package to Congress, the total package worth $8 billion for 66 F-16 Block 70 and other spare parts. On 13 December 2019, the US and Taiwan finalized the F-16V order. On 19 August 2020, Taiwan formally signed an agreement to buy 66 F-16V jets built by Lockheed Martin.

The contract does not mention the version of F-16 fighter that will be delivered by the American company Lockheed Martin but according to the Eurasian Times website, the sale could include new F-16V Block 70 "Viper" jets which is the newest and most advanced F-16 production configuration.

The F-16 Block 70/72 combines capability upgrades, most notably the advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar with a new avionics architecture, and structural upgrades to extend the structural life of the aircraft by more than 50 percent beyond that of previous production F-16 aircraft. F-16 Block 70 software takes advantage of technologies not available when earlier Block F-16s were developed and produced. Operational capabilities are enhanced through an advanced datalink, targeting pod and weapons; precision GPS navigation, and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS).

Citing the Airforce-Technology website, the F-16V can be armed with a range of air-to-air missiles (AAMs), including AIM-9 Sidewinder, Magic II, and ASRAAM short-range AAMs, as well as AIM-7, Sky Flash, and AIM-120 medium-range AAMs.

The aircraft supports the integration of AGM-119/AGM-84/AGM-65G anti-ship missiles and AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missile, as well as Paveway laser-guided bombs, GBU-15 bombs, and wind corrected munitions dispenser weapons.