September 15, 2006 (by Stefaan Vanhastel) - Today Poland took delivery of its first F-16 block 52+ aircraft (#4043) during a ceremony at Lockheed Fort Worth. The aircraft is the first of 48 F-16s which will be the most advanced fighters in NATO's inventory.
Roll-out of Polish F-16C block 52 #4043 at the LM facilities in Texas. [Photo by Maciej Woźniak]
Ceremonies were held today at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, to commemorate the Polish F-16 Peace Sky program. The ceremony marks an important production milestone, demonstrating that the program is on schedule and on budget. When delivered, the Polish F-16 will be the most advanced fighter aircraft in NATO
is delighted to be taking delivery of an aircraft that will not only transform our capabilities in the air but also those of our ground troops and the Navy," said Minister of Defense Sikorski. "It will also significantly bolster the operational capacity of our expeditionary forces."
The Poland Peace Sky Program began in April 2003. Today's rollout commemorates the 48 F-16 aircraft (36 F-16C and 12 F-16D) that Lockheed Martin is producing for Poland. The aircraft joins a fleet of more than 4,300 F-16s operated by 24 air forces around the world.
"This is a great day for Poland and the United States," said Deputy Undersecretary Lemkin. "The Polish Air Force now will be flying a frontline, top-performance fighter, virtually the same F-16 being flown by the U.S. Air Force. The Peace Sky program is the centerpiece of an enduring relationship between our air forces and will allow us to train together, operate together, fly together and learn from one another. These F-16s will provide the foundation of interoperability that will enable us to carry out operations as NATO and coalition partners."
Commander of the Poland Air Force Targosz expressed pride that Poland has acquired such advanced F-16s. "The Poland Air Force is proud to accept our new F-16 today," he said. "Poland now has the most technologically advanced F-16s in NATO, strengthening not only the Poland Air Force, but improving our interoperability with other F-16 operators in the NATO alliance."
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics President Ralph D. Heath recognized the vision shared by the United States and Poland when the Peace Sky program began. "We have a new NATO beginning today," he said. "Peace Sky is physical evidence of the vision both our nations shared to take Poland and NATO to a new level with this most capable, combat-proven, 21st century fighter."
The F-16 for Poland includes enhanced capabilities, modern technologies and growth potential that will establish a foundation for the Poland Air Force in the 21st century. "We have been on or ahead of schedule in all key events," said Lockheed Martin's Shrewsbury. "We will take every measure to ensure the Poland Air Force achieves and maintains its highest levels of capability and readiness while flying the F-16."
The Poland Peace Sky program includes 36 F-16Cs and 12 F-16Ds, all powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine. This first aircraft - a single-seat F-16C model - was accepted by the U.S. government (as agent for Poland in the Foreign Military Sales process) on March 30, one month ahead of schedule. The U.S. government accepted the first two-seat F-16D version in June. The first four aircraft will be ferried to Poland in November with the remainder following in 2007 and 2008.