Slovak Air Force Takes Delivery of First 2 F-16 Block 70 Jets

While awaiting delivery of the fighters, a NATO air policing arrangement has been in place with neighboring countries to ensure the protection of Slovakia’s airspace.

[Courtesy: Lockheed Martin]

The Slovak Air Force has taken delivery of the first two F-16 Block 70 fighter jets, Lockheed Martin announced.

The delivery puts the country's air defenses "back in business" following its retirement of Russian MiG-29 fighters in 2022, Forbes reported.

"The delivery of the first two F-16 Block 70 jets to Slovakia signifies a crucial starting point in bolstering the country’s defense capabilities," OJ Sanchez, vice president and general manager of the integrated fighter group at Lockheed Martin, said in a statement. "The integration of this proven platform will allow the Slovak Air Force to effectively safeguard its borders and partner with allies across Europe, NATO, and the world."

Slovakia has ordered a total of 14 of the advanced fighter jets made in the manufacturer's Greenville, South Carolina, production facility. The Lockheed Martin facility has a backlog of 135 jets, a number it said is set to grow after Bulgaria signed a letter of offer and acceptance for eight F-16s.

"Once the agreement is finalized, the backlog will increase by eight," Lockheed Martin said.  

While awaiting delivery of the F-16s, Slovakia's neighboring countries have stepped up to help preserve NATO airspace integrity. Last October, NATO said that an air policing arrangement among allies was in place to ensure coverage and protection of Slovakia's airspace.

"Since September 2022, Poland and Czech Republic have pledged fighter aircraft launched out of their respective home bases able to react at a moment's notice should the integrity of Slovak airspace be at risk," NATO said. "Germany, since early September 2023, is keeping two mission-ready Eurofighters at Neuburg available for air policing scrambles over Slovakia and training sorties with other allies."

Said Major General Róbert Tóth, commander of the Slovak Air Forces, in October: “It is great to have friends and to count on them. As we are in the process of upgrading our fighter and interceptor capability, we are grateful to our allies who support us by making their jets available to fly air policing missions."

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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