December 20, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lockheed Martin Aeronautics said Thursday it has received a $1.3 billion contract to assemble 52 F-16 aircraft for Israel.
The Foreign Military Sales contract for Israel officially exercises the option for 52 additional F-16I aircraft under the Peace Marble V program. Lockheed Martin's contract value for the option is $1.3 billion out of a total program value of about $2 billion.
"This contract is very important to us for a number of reasons," Dain Hancock, president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said in a statement. "It completes the deal for a very important customer, it extends the firm F-16 production base through 2008 and it boosts our firm orders for 2001. This buy provides an excellent base for future F-16 sales and provides a solid bridge to JSF
[Joint Strike Fighter] production at our Fort Worth facility."
The aircraft will be the same two-seat F-16I configuration as the original 50 aircraft ordered in the Peace Marble V program, which began in January 2000. This brings the total of F-16Is on order to 102. The first F-16I will deliver in 2003.
All aircraft will be assembled at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, but there will be significant coproduction of airframe and avionics components in Israel
, the company said.
During the Paris Air Show in June, Israel had announced its intent to exercise the option and in September signed the letter of offer and acceptance with the U.S. government. This is Israel's sixth buy of F-16s.
There are now a total of 48 follow-on buys of new F-16s by 14 countries. Worldwide F-16 firm orders now number 4,347 aircraft, with a firm backlog of 301 aircraft as of the end of 2001, Lockheed Martin said.