Lockheed Martin lands $900m USAF F-16 depot contract

Lockheed Martin announced on December 11 that it has been awarded a US$900m contract by the US Air Force (USAF) to provide sustainment support and depot-overflow services for its F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet.

Awarding of the contract – which is estimated to cover a ten-year period – to Lockheed Martin was the result of a competitive acquisition process, during which the USAF received a total of four offers. As part of the deal, the company will conduct aircraft modification, depot-level maintenance activities, predefined programmatic work and unplanned drop-in maintenance services for the USAF’s F-16 fleet.

In a press release, the firm said: “As the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s original equipment manufacturer, Lockheed Martin is uniquely positioned to provide the most comprehensive knowledge of the aircraft and tailored sustainment solutions to optimise the F-16 fleet for greater capability, readiness and performance.”

F-16C Fighting Falcon [USAF/Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte]
A USAF-operated Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron 'Buzzards' at Aviano Air Base, Italy, takes off from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, UK, on September 1, 2020, to conduct close air support training. USAF/Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte

Work under this contract will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Greenville, South Carolina, which is also home to the company’s recently established F-16V Block 70 production line. “Lockheed Martin’s team of F-16 experts are on-site and prepared to meet the service’s most challenging problems, partnering between production and sustainment operations, giving full life-cycle coverage for the F-16,” the firm added.

A separate press release from the USAF’s F-16 Program Office outlined that Lockheed Martin’s Greenville facility houses 12 dock spaces that will be used to carry out F-16 maintenance and modernisation support services. It adds that this contract establishes “the first ever US-based F-16 industry depot to support government-owned depot facilities.” At present, there are currently two overseas F-16 contract depots – one in Europe and the other in the Pacific.

The USAF adds that it has funded several modernisation and structural programmes that “will significantly increase the depot level workload in upcoming years as the priority is to effectively operate the F-16 for decades to come.” Alongside this Lockheed Martin contract, the air force is working with Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah, to maximise its government depot capacity.

Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcons account for approximately 45% of the USAF’s multi-role fighter fleet. AirForces Intelligence data states that, as of December 15, 2020, the air force operates a fleet of 783 single-seat F-16Cs and 148 two-seat F-16Ds across a variety of block configurations. The USAF also presently operates a growing fleet of QF-16 Fighting Falcons, which are employed as attritable unmanned full scale aerial targets for the purpose of testing new weapons and tactics.