Lockheed Martin to celebrate delivery of 4,500th F-16
In late 1969, a conspiracy was hatched in secret all-night meetings in Washington, D.C.-area hotel rooms that would have a profound impact on military aviation and Fort Worth.
A handful of people were at the meetings: two rebel Air Force colonels, a Pentagon analyst and a General Dynamics engineer. Their goal was to create a fighter jet -- a relatively simple, inexpensive plane that could be sold by the hundreds.
Fortunately, the conspirators succeeded, probably beyond any of their wildest dreams.
On Tuesday, Lockheed Martin will celebrate delivery of the 4,500th F-16, the direct result of those late-night meetings.
It's a huge milestone for Lockheed and Fort Worth. The F-16 is arguably the finest combat airplane of the jet age. It's the principal frontline warplane of the U.S. Air Force and of the armed forces of 25 other nations.
"It's the best air-to-air fighter. Then it proved to be the most adaptable" plane for ground attack missions as well, said Pierre Sprey, a former civilian weapons analyst in the Pentagon and frequent Defense Department critic who was one of the "fighter mafia" insurgents who went up against the military establishment to launch the F-16.
As important as its capabilities, the F-16 remains a relatively low-cost aircraft. Plane No. 4,500 is bound for Morocco. Half of the F-16s ever built have been sold to foreign nations. About 1,600 jobs at Lockheed remain tied to the program.
Beyond the quality of the airplane, perhaps the signature accomplishment of the F-16 program was the process the Pentagon used to buy it. Unlike almost every other modern military aircraft program before or since, the F-16 was designed and built quickly and was free of major technical delays.
Source: 03 April 2011 - Lockheed Martin News
Photo: 4500 F-16 Delivery Ceremony. On Tuesday, April 3, 2012, Lockheed Martin celebrated the 4,500th F-16 delivery in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Lockheed Martin)