Lockheed Martin, partnering with Romania and the Netherlands, will arrange an F-16 coaching facility in Romania, the corporate introduced Aug. 31. The schoolhouse could finally prepare Ukrainian pilots and different regional customers of the fighter.
The corporate and two international locations signed a “letter of intent” for the schoolhouse, which can initially concentrate on coaching Romanian pilots. The deliberate location of the coaching facility was not instantly disclosed.
Romania has 17 of the fighters and is about to obtain 32 extra F-16s from Norway after refurbishment. Romania can also be within the technique of requesting 32 to 48 F-35 fighters from the U.S., additionally constructed by Lockheed Martin.
Nevertheless, a Lockheed spokesperson instructed Air & House Forces Journal that “Royal Netherlands Air Drive (RNLAF) F-16s will likely be used for coaching functions” on the new schoolhouse. The institution of the power is a “business association with the help of the U.S. business licensing course of,” she added.
The F-16 “continues to play an important position in twenty first century safety missions” for the U.S., Europe, NATO and different allies, Lockheed built-in fighter group vice chairman O.J. Sanchez stated in an announcement
The brand new facility will present “a complete F-16 coaching answer for Romanian pilots,” he added. “As soon as particulars are finalized, we’re assured the coaching heart will in the end profit Romania and different regional F-16 operators, together with doubtlessly Ukraine.”
Different European customers of the F-16 embody Belgium, Greece, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and Turkey—a number of hundred in complete.
Sanchez instructed Air & House Forces Journal in an early August interview that Lockheed has a “agency backlog” of 126 orders for brand spanking new F-16s, which will likely be produced at its Greenville, S.C. services at a price of about 48 airframes per 12 months by 2025. He stated there are greater than 3,000 F-16s working worldwide and there stays “robust demand” for the fighter. The 126 determine he cited doesn’t embody India, which is contemplating an F-16 Block 70 Lockheed has rebranded because the F-21.
Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have collectively pledged to donate greater than 60 F-16s to Ukraine, which continues to battle off Russia’s full-scale invasion, and the U.S. has agreed to expedite the third-party switch and supply F-16 coaching supplies. Some Ukrainian pilots are receiving language coaching within the U.Okay. and the U.S. previous to an F-16 coaching program at Morris Air Nationwide Guard Base, Ariz., the place most overseas navy gross sales F-16 pilots obtain instruction.
“The efforts in Tucson, Ariz., are complementary to European efforts to make sure capability and accommodate the blossoming want for F-16 coaching in Europe,” the Lockheed spokesperson stated.
Earlier this month, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander Gen. James B. Hecker stated Ukraine wouldn’t get a fundamental F-16 functionality till 2024, though different international locations had been selling the concept of Ukrainian pilots flying the jet within the conflict towards Russia by the tip of this 12 months. Hecker warned the jet won’t be a “silver bullet” that can all of the sudden flip the tide within the 18-month-old conflict. Relatively, the jet will merely be “extra interoperable” with air-to-ground weapons the U.S. and different international locations are already offering to Ukraine than these weapons are with Ukraine’s Russian-design MiG-29s and Su-27s.
An business supply stated, nonetheless, that if the Ukrainian pilots have entry to a close-by coaching facility—akin to in Romania—then fewer of the jets Ukraine receives should be put aside for coaching, that means extra will likely be accessible for fight.