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Lt. Col. Julian Pacheco and Iraqi air force captain Hama land one of the IAF's new F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Dec. 16, 2014, at the Tucson International Airport, Ariz. Air Force photo by SrA. Jordan Castelan.

The F-16 orderbook will take until 2017 to work off, and Lockheed Martin anticipates there may be a market for a further 50 airplanes, said Rod McLean, company vice president and general manager for the F-16 and F-22. Speaking with reporters at a Lockheed Martin media event in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday, McLean said the company is producing F-16s for Iraq, but there is “considerable” interest in both new-build F-16s and substantial modifications. “We have already reduced our footprint in Fort Worth,” Texas, where F-16s have been built since the mid-1970s, McLean said, and there is “no near-term pressure” to make space for more F-35 work there. Lockheed is making F-16s at a rate of one per month, so an additional 50 jets would extend the line potentially to 2021. That would make the Viper the longest in-production fighter by far (outstripping the MiG-21, which was produced for 26 years). There’s also enough capacity that Lockheed could build more than one a month if a customer needed jets faster, McLean said. He added that “even if we do have a gap” in orders, the operation is efficient enough that it could take a break and “stand up that line” again without too much difficulty.  There “continues to be a market for a fourth-generation aircraft,” he said.