Even with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter low looming large on the horizon, a senior Lockheed Martin official said on Wednesday that he still anticipates the company will receive international orders for perhaps 80 to 100 additional F-16s before everything is said and done for the Viper line in Fort Worth, Tex. These are in addition to all existing F-16 orders. Part of the reason for confidence, Rob Weiss, corporate VP for business development, told reporters at AFA’s Air & Space Conference is that the F-16 keeps getting repeat buyers—14 of 24 purchasers already have come back for more. These include Greece, Israel, and Turkey. Weiss said the assembly plant will have no trouble accommodating additional F-16s even when F-35 production—at the same site—begins to speed up.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.