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Columbia Business Monthly

#YeahTHATAgenda: Greenville-Built F-16s Headed for Bulgaria, Charleston's Rawle Murdy Bought, New Brewery in Columbia, Next Gen Tech in Spartanburg, Entertainment Weekly Going Monthly, Swamp Thing

Jun 07, 2019 02:47PM ● By Chris Haire
U.S. State Department approves sale of Greenville-built F-16s to Bulgaria: The first F-16s have yet to be built at Lockheed Martin's new Greenville production line, but the facility is already lining up new contracts for the fighter jet.

So far, three nations have agreed to buy new F-16s, Bahrain, Slovakia, and Morocco. Last year, Bahrain inked a deal for 16 F-16s, with Slovakia placing an order for 14 fighter jets, while earlier this year Morocco agreed to buy 25 new planes. Now, you can add Bulgaria to the list of countries waiting in the queue. 

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that the State Department had approved a possible sale of eight F-16s to Bulgaria, part of a $1.7 billion deal with the Eastern European nation. 

However, another possible F-16 purchase is on the horizon, one that carries with it a much higher price tag and potential for international trouble. According to the South China Morning Post, Taiwan intends to buy 66 F-16s, a move that may ruffle feathers in Beijing. 

The island nation of Taiwan is currently in the process of modernizing its air force, according to The National Interest magazine. The foreign policy magazine notes that this modernization, along with the purchase of new F-16s and a revamping of other F-16 fighters, could potentially give Taiwan the ability to "contest" an air attack from China.

Last month, Taiwan held a military exercise in which it shut down a major highway and landed several planes, a move which showcased that it could still field aircraft in the event of an attack on its air bases, Popular Mechanics reports.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that the U.S. is pursuing a $2 billion weapons deal with Taiwan, much to China's dismay.

According to the Defense Department notice, "Bulgaria currently relies on the United States and the United Kingdom to participate in joint air policing. By acquiring these F-16s and the associated sustainment and training package, Bulgaria will be able to provide for the defense of its own airspace and borders. "

Formerly manufactured in Fort Worth, Texas, the F-16 program began its Greenville shift two years ago. In April, Lockheed representatives and South Carolina elected officials celebrated the unveiling of the new production line at the S.C. Technology and Aviation Center, with the first jets expected to roll off the lines in 2021.

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