Lockheed Martin unveiled the Slovak Air Force’s first F-16 Block 70 fighter on Thursday.
The fighter aircraft is the first of an order for 14 supersonic jets signed in 2018. They will replace the 13 MiG-29s that were in operation until a few months ago.
In March, the Slovak government sent the first MiG-29s to Ukraine, as part of military aid to the country, which is trying to recover regions in the east taken by Russia.
“These F-16s will enable the Slovak Air Force to stay ahead of threats in the region, and be part of the allied mission in Europe, NATO and around the world,” said OJ Sanchez, vice president, Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin . “This jet represents the strong partnership between Lockheed Martin, the United States, the Slovak Republic and allies.”
The Slovak F-16 was assembled in Greenville, South Carolina, on a new Lockheed Martin assembly line that replaced the fighter’s original factory in Fort Worth, Texas. The facility currently produces the F-35 Lightning II.
The new fighters will be allocated to the 81st Otto Smik Wing, in Sliač, and Slovak pilots have been able to fly the F-16 since 2021, after completing training in the US.
The first F-16 is expected to be delivered in 2024, two years after the initial plan.