Including a “postponed” buy of 80 to Pakistan and 40 for Greece (the Greeks are rethinking their decision), Lockheed sees a firm future market for about 200 new F-16s—possibly many more. Working off the existing backlog will keep the line running at about 72 a year for two more years. At that point, the company plans to shrink to a steady 24 per year for as long as customers want them. Since dibs on most to-be-produced F-35 Joint Strike Fighters are set through the late 2010s, the F-16 could continue to sell for years to come. Besides that, more than 3,000 F-16s are in use worldwide today, and Lockheed expects a “healthy and viable” market for parts, overhauls, and upgrades for a long time. The F-16s now being delivered are expected to be in service another 25 years at least.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.