August 21, 2003 (by Stefaan Vanhastel) - On August 18th, Lockheed Martin celebrated the first production delivery of its F-16 Fighting Falcon, day-to-day 25 years ago. The F-16 has been one of the most successful military aircraft programs in history.
Since that historic day in 1978, 4,092 F-16s have been produced in factories in five countries (United States, Belgium
and Korea) and delivered to the air forces of 20 countries. Over the next three years, four additional countries (United Arab Emirates
) will receive their first F-16s, for a total of 24 customers worldwide. There is a current backlog of 325 aircraft on order that will deliver through 2008.
The F-16 program is a pioneer in forging international relationships that eventually led to unprecedented cooperation on such programs as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The F-16's legacy includes a historic agreement with Belgium, Denmark
, the Netherlands and Norway
in 1975 for the procurement of and coproduction of 348 F-16s in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force's original plans to buy 650. Half of the F-16s ordered are for international customers.