The US defense department has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth up to $62 billion for foreign military sales of F-16 fighters.
The contract covers a total of 90 aircraft, 66 for the government of Taiwan and 24 presumably for Morocco.
Pentagon noted that the initial delivery order has a value of $4.9 billion. The contract award did not provide details about the customers, but several news outlets were able to confirm that 66 of the F-16 multirole fighters are being picked up Taiwan.
The announcement comes exactly a year after the US State Department cleared the possible sale of fighter aircraft to the island country, which already operates an F-16 fleet bought in 1992.
The US has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which China considers one of its break-away provinces. However, the US is bound by law to provide the island with defense articles for self protection. The US State Department has recently also green lighted an estimated $620 million worth of repair and update works on the country’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles.
While yet to be confirmed, the remaining aircraft are likely bound for Morocco, which requested to buy 25 F-16s in addition to upgrade equipment in 2019. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said back then that upgrades and new aircraft acquisition would cost an estimated $4.8 billion. Morocco already operates the aircraft, having ordered 24 frames in 2008.
Lockheed Martin is expected to complete all deliveries under the contract by 2026.