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The latest version of the F-16 fighter jet took to the skies for the first time on Tuesday, according to aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin. The jet, built for Bahrain, took its first flight from a Lockheed plant in Greenville, South Carolina. During the company’s quarterly earnings call on Tuesday morning, CEO Jim Taiclet mentioned the flight.

“It was a really big milestone for the company and that organisation in South Carolina,” Taiclet said.

The Block 70 F-16 has improved electronics, radar, and cockpit displays over older F-16s used by the US and its allies.

Aside from Bahrain, the plane has been ordered by Bulgaria, Slovakia, Taiwan, and, most recently, Jordan, which signed a deal for 12 Block 70s last week.

“This aircraft is in high demand…from allies all over the world,” Taiclet said. “We’re actively marketing this jet to countries that may not yet be authorised or may not have the infrastructure for [the] F-35 [stealth fighter] at this time but will in the future.”

According to Taiclet, India falls into this category.

Lockheed CFO Jay Malave stated on the earnings call that more than 20 F-16s are currently being built in Greenville. This year, the company expects to deliver seven to eight aircraft.

“That will increase significantly in 2024,” Malave predicted. “We’re ramping up [production] right now in order to meet customer demands.”