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Lockheed Martin says new F-16 test flight marks 'new era' for fighter jet

Lockheed Martin tested its new, advanced F-16 Block 70 fighter jet Tuesday in Greenville, S.C. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin tested its new, advanced F-16 Block 70 fighter jet Tuesday in Greenville, S.C. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin tested its new, advanced F-16 Block 70 fighter jet Tuesday in Greenville, S.C.

The test flight lasted for about 50 minutes, according to a press release from the company. It included a series of quality checks to ensure the jet operated as expected. Upon landing, it successfully released its deceleration parachute to complete the flight.

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"@LockheedMartin launched a new era of its proven Fighting Falcon with the successful first flight of the F-16 Block 70 at its Greenville, South Carolina site," Lockheed Martin tweeted.

Dwayne "Pro" Opella and Monessa "Siren" Balzhiser piloted the jet, which took off at about 9:17 p.m. EST.

"This milestone demonstrates Lockheed Martin's commitment to advancing this program and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced 21st century security capabilities to the warfighter," said OJ Sanchez, vice president, Integrated Fighter Group.

The Block 70 is the most advanced fighter jet the arms manufacturer has created, with cutting edge radar capabilities and a higher level of maneuverability, the company said.

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Six countries are slated to deploy F-16 Block 70s by mid-decade, including Bahrain, which will receive 16 jets.

Lockheed Martin reports a backlog of 128 jets to be manufactured at its Greenville location. Jordan signed an agreement to purchase 12 additional jets, and Bulgaria is adding eight more.

"This is the culmination of significant development, design, digital engineering, supply chain and production line advances to an already proven platform that will continue to deliver decades of service in support of customers' national security," said Danya Trent, F-16 programs vice president at Lockheed Martin.

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