Lockheed Martin has delivered the 4500th F-16 Fighting Falcon, a Block 52 aircraft destined for Morocco.
In production since 1975, the F-16 has been selected as a front-line fighter by 26 countries. Lockheed currently has 70 unfilled F-16 orders that will keep its Fort Worth, Texas production line open until at least 2016. That includes orders from Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Oman and Iraq.
Originally designed as a light and highly manoeuvrable air superiority fighter, the F-16 has evolved into a multirole attack plane and has undergone numerous upgrades over the years. The jet was produced by General Dynamics until 1993, when General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to Lockheed.
The US Air Force recently announced plans to upgrade 300 of its F-16s and plans to keep the fighters in service through at least 2025 as they are phased out in favour of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, also built by Lockheed.
Lockheed hopes F-16 production will eventually overtake that of the Vietnam-era F-4 Phantom II, of which 5195 were built, which would make it the second most produced US jet fighter, after the F-86 Sabre.