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    US Air Force to Stretch F-16’s Service Life, Keeping it Flying for 30 More Years

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    The US Air Force plans to extend the service life of the F-16 fighter jet from 8,000 hours to 12,000 hours, effectively keeping the aircraft in the air for decades to come.

    Manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced in a Wednesday statement that up to 300 F-16C/D aircraft of the Block 40-52 production lines will have their service lives extended.

    Susan Ouzts, vice president of Lockheed’s F-16 program, said in a media release, "This accomplishment is the result of more than seven years of test, development, design, analysis and partnership between the US Air Force and Lockheed Martin … Combined with F-16 avionics modernization programs like the F-16V, SLEP modifications demonstrate that the Fighting Falcon remains a highly capable and affordable 4th generation option for the US Air Force and international F-16 customers." 

    With modernization, the service will be able to operate the Block 40-52 aircraft safely past the year 2048, which comes as Washington looks to save money on some of its big ticket weapons, particularly the pricey F-35 program, which has been called the most expensive weapons system in history.

    The US Navy recently decided to buy an advanced fleet of the stealth jets, worth $400 billion, to replace the aging fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets, despite protest from President Donald Trump. 

    Lockheed Martin also manufacturers the F-35, and saw its shares drop up to 5 percent in December after Trump wrote on Twitter that costs for the program were "out of control." An agreement with Lockheed CEO Marilyn Hewson was later reached to drop the price of the next 90 F-35s 8 percent, to $728 million apiece.

    The defense manufacturer said in a statement, "President Trump's personal involvement in the F-35 program accelerated the negotiations and sharpened our focus on driving down the price … The agreement was reached in a matter of weeks and represents significant savings over previous contracts. This is a good deal for the American taxpayer, our country, our company and our suppliers."

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    Tags:
    Fighter jet, F-16, US Air Force, United States
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