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Slovakia’s inaugural F-16 Block 70 fighter makes maiden flight

Photo: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin announced the successful flight of the first Slovakian F-16 Block 70 aircraft, making Slovakia the first European country to procure the Block 70 F-16 for its armed forces.

On September 29, at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Greenville, South Carolina, test pilot Ryan ‘Cujo’ Blake executed a flight, conducting a series of system tests to confirm and validate the aircraft’s performance and supersonic capabilities.

During the first flight, the test pilot assessed various fighter systems and characteristics, achieving supersonic speed. Lockheed Martin acknowledged the roll-out of the fighter in Greenville at the beginning of September.

Slovakia’s commitment includes an order for 14 F-16 Block 70s, with their pilots currently undergoing training alongside the Arizona Air National Guard at the Tucson National Guard Air Force Base to adapt to the new aircraft pattern. The first four fighters are slated for delivery to Slovakia next year.

The F-16s procured by Slovakia are poised to replace the MiG-29 fighters that the country donated to Ukraine in March of this year.

“The Slovak Air Force is taking significant steps forward with the capabilities of the F-16,” said OJ Sanchez, vice president and general manager, Integrated Fighter Group, Lockheed Martin. “The integration of this proven platform will allow the Slovak Air Force to effectively safeguard its borders and partner with allies across Europe, NATO and the world.”

“The F-16 Block 70 offers allies and partners advanced 21st Century Security capabilities, affordable operating and lifecycle costs, and strategic partnership opportunities,” added Sanchez.

According to the company, six nations have opted for Block 70/72 aircraft, with Jordan finalizing an LOA for 12 jets and Bulgaria securing an LOA for an extra eight last year. When these agreements are formalized, the total backlog will rise to 146 aircraft, in addition to the current official backlog of 126 jets.