The first of 14 F-16C/D Block 70 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters for Slovakia completed its maiden flight from Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Greenville, South Carolina, at approximately 0930hrs (local time) on September 29.
The sortie was carried out by Lockheed Martin test pilot, Ryan ‘Cujo’ Blake, who successfully conducted multiple system tests to validate the fighter’s overall performance and capabilities. This maiden flight came about three weeks after the F-16C (1001) was formally rolled out and officially presented to the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic in the presence of Defence Minister Martin Sklenár on September 6.
The aircraft is the first of 12 single-seat F-16C Block 70 and two dual-seat F-16D Block 70 fighters for the Slovak Air Force. It is also the first new-build F-16 Block 70 to be manufactured for a European customer.
Michal Homza – Director General of the Slovak Ministry of Defence’s Modernisation Department and National Armaments Director – said that preparations are underway to ensure that the first two aircraft will be available for training Slovak F-16 technicians in the US. Deliveries of the F-16C/D Block 70 to Slovakia will begin during the second quarter of 2024, when they will finally replace the 13 Cold War-era MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters that have already been retired from use and donated to Ukraine, with Poland and the Czech Republic providing temporary airspace protection.