Aerospace manufacturer Lockheed Martin has confirmed a report from the national security site Defense One that it plans to shift production of its F-16 “Fighting Falcon” plane from Texas to its smaller facility in South Carolina.
A spokeswoman for the company’s Greenville Operations confirmed the report’s details but said she could not comment any further because the announcement was not yet official.
The Air Force has halted its orders for the 40-year-old model as it moves on to the next generation of fighters in the F-35 variant. However, military leaders in other countries are still purchasing the planes. Lockheed Martin’s executive vice president of its Aeronautics business area Orlando Carvalho told the publication the company will take a two-year break in production after September to shift production to the Upstate.
Lockheed Martin already operates a smaller facility near the Donaldson Center Airport, which currently does maintenance and modifications on the company’s aircraft. Carvalho estimated the move could add up to 250 new jobs for the South Carolina plant, depending on orders.
The report notes Bahrain, Colombia and Indonesia are projected to order F-16s in the future.
Lockheed Martin’s Greenville Operations employs about 500 people, according to the company. In addition to aircraft maintenance, it also assembled the T-50A advanced trainer prototype aircraft which Lockheed hopes will win a Defense Department contract for mass production.