The F-16 seems to keep receiving updates and new aircraft appear to still be in production, e.g. the F-16I and F-16Q. It seems there are also several upgrades being developed and installed, such as radar (AESA) and radar detection warning systems.

Has any authority on the subject attempted to estimate how long the F-16 is expected to be in production? Is there any estimated limit on for how long a budget fourth generation airframe can be used as the basis of a modern combat aircraft?

I'm not looking for speculation from StackExchange users but rather a reference to a statement made by one or several external authority -- to avoid making this question opinion based. Some sensible original reasoning is only a bonus as far as I'm concerned.

I can only imagine myself that countries that keep buying F-16s do so for budget reasons -- however, there must also be some real value in buying F-16s in 2019, since these are after all large sums of money even if it is bleak in comparison to e.g. F-35s or F-22s.

  • $\begingroup$ If the F-35 gets improved, the F-16 will have a shorter lifetime. But I doubt this will happen much $\endgroup$
    – Pheric
    May 20, 2019 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Pheric: What's the price tag difference between an F-35 and a modern F-16. I doubt that the market for F-16s will go away soon. $\endgroup$
    – Dohn Joe
    Oct 11, 2019 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


An article last month in the Greenville News about the relocation of the F-16 production line provided this comment:

The Trump administration fast-tracked a $1 billion F-16 deal with Bahrain, Navarro said. Deals closed or on the verge of closing since then guarantee the plant in Greenville will stay busy at least through 2025 and likely much longer, he said.

The "likely much longer" will be based on future sales (and Government approval of those sales.) It's a good plane at a competitive price, but a change in the marketplace could mean it ends after this contract build.


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