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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: New Era in Air Defense

Mar 12, 2024 11:52AM ● By Donna Walker

F-16 Block 70 Jets Set Off On Historic Ferry Flight To Bahrain

(Photo by David Dykes)


Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) on March 6, 2024, marked a significant milestone with the departure of the first ferry cell of three F-16 Block 70 jets from Greenville, South Carolina, to Bahrain. 


Lockheed Martin officials said the event highlights Bahrain's role as the first Gulf Cooperation Council member to operate the F-16 and now the first to integrate the F-16 Block 70 variant into its fleet. 


To date, Lockheed Martin has produced five F-16 Block 70 jets for Bahrain, with an additional 11 in various stages of production and testing. 


The initial aircraft are performing flight test missions at Edwards Air Force Base, California, with the 416th Flight Test Squadron. 


A Lockheed Martin spokesperson said a ferry flight pertains to the delivery of aircraft to the home base of operations that typically occurs after an aircraft has completed production and testing requirements.


In this case, the three Bahraini F-16 Block 70s are being flown from the production site in Greenville, South Carolina, to Bahrain where the Royal Bahrani Air Force will operate them.


OJ Sanchez, vice president and general manager of the Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin, emphasized the importance of the F-16 in the joint 21st Century Security battlespace. 


“With the introduction of the F-16 Block 70, we are witnessing a significant leap in fighter capabilities. The integration of this proven platform will allow the Royal Bahraini Air Force to safeguard its skies effectively and partner with allies worldwide,” Sanchez said.  


“More than 3,100 F-16s are operational in 25 countries, demonstrating the F-16’s reputation as a highly reliable and versatile fighter.” 


Sanchez also acknowledged the enduring partnership between the U.S. government, Bahrain, and Lockheed Martin, a relationship that reflects shared values in defense, economic growth, and cultural ties. 


Lockheed Martin officials said the F-16 Block 70 jets, representing a significant leap in fighter capabilities, are at the forefront of 4.5-generation technology. 


The aircraft are equipped with the APG-83 AESA Radar, advanced avionics, and a modernized cockpit featuring new safety systems and sophisticated weapon platforms. 


Additional enhancements include conformal fuel tanks for extended range, an improved performance engine, and an industry-leading extended structural service life of 12,000 hours. 


A key safety feature, the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS), introduced in late 2014, has been instrumental in saving the lives of 13 pilots across 12 jets, demonstrating the aircraft's superior safety and performance capabilities, company officials said. 


Lockheed Martin's commitment to the Middle East spans over 50 years, focusing on regional security and advanced technology for critical missions. 


The current backlog of the F-16 Block 70 program includes 133 aircraft for six countries. 


This year, Lockheed Martin anticipates 19-21 jets will be delivered from the company’s production line in Greenville, leveraging 1LMX advanced manufacturing and digital technologies.


Lockheed Martin said it foresees potential opportunities for up to 300 additional jets worldwide.

Matica Group Establishing First North American Manufacturing Operations in Spartanburg County

Matica Group, a global identity and payment solutions provider, said is establishing its first North American manufacturing operation in Spartanburg County.


The company’s $2 million investment will create 40 jobs, according to Gov. Henry McMaster’s office.


Headquartered in Switzerland, Matica designs, manufactures, and markets payment and identity systems.


The company has 200 employees and 11 facilities worldwide, including a technology support office in Greenville County.

The company will manufacture central identification issuance systems at the new 38,000-square-foot facility located at 2750 S. Highway 14 in Greer. Products include large-scale card personalization networks and desktop models.

Operations are expected to be online in July 2024. Those interested in joining Matica should contact the company’s Human Resources Department ([email protected]).

The state’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to the project.

Lennar Announces Plans for Active Adult Community in Lancaster, SC

Lennar, one of the nation's leading homebuilders, announced plans for Roselyn, a new, master-planned active adult community designed specifically for homebuyers ages 55+ in northern Lancaster County.


Situated south of Charlotte, the new community will feature three single-story home collections – Garden, Blossom and Primrose – and offer approximately 1,800 home sites combined with contemporary, low-maintenance living for an active adult lifestyle.


Model homes are anticipated to be completed in summer 2024 and sales will also begin summer 2024. 


Ranging in size from 1,400 to over 3,500 square feet, Roselyn's three home collections will offer a variety of home designs. The floorplans incorporate living spaces, center-island kitchens and spa-inspired owner's suites.


All of the homes come with Lennar's industry Everything's Included program, where the homebuilder's most popular features and upgrades are built into the base price of the home.


This includes stainless steel appliances, quartz or granite countertops, upgraded cabinets and energy-conscious features.


Officials said Roselyn offers ample amenities including a clubhouse, pool, fitness center, pickleball courts, dog park, sidewalks, and trails connecting to the Carolina Trail Thread.


The community will offer a lifestyle director for added recreational activities.

DHEC Launches New Vessel Turn-In Program to Help Relieve SC Coast of Abandoned Boats

Abandoned and derelict boats are a chronic problem along South Carolina’s coast, negatively impacting marshes and coastal waters and creating hazards.


Derelict boats are often old, neglected and in very poor condition. A new program is being piloted by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to prevent derelict boats from entering coastal waterways where they may become environmental or safety hazards.


DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (DHEC OCRM) is piloting a Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP) this summer for individuals and businesses in South Carolina’s eight coastal counties: Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry and Jasper.


Through the VTIP, individuals and businesses in those counties can apply to have unwanted, at-risk or end-of-life vessels disposed of before they become abandoned, at no cost.


After applying, individuals will be notified if they’ve been accepted for the program and will be provided details for transporting their vessel to a drop-off site or having their vessel picked up by DHEC OCRM contractors.


The vessels will be dismantled and separated into different material types, and where possible, the materials will be disposed of sustainably.


As part of this project, DHEC OCRM is also piloting an innovative fiberglass vessel hull recycling program, where the shredded fiberglass from VTIP vessels will be used as an alternative fuel at a local cement kiln.


“Not only does the VTIP program have the potential to keep vessels out of our marsh and coastal waters, but it also strives for sustainable disposal options as an alternative to landfilling the vessels,” said Marian Page, interim bureau chief of DHEC OCRM. “These two pilot programs aim to protect natural resources and divert waste from landfills in our coastal communities.”


The pilot programs are being funded through a Coastal Zone Enhancement grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


Those interested in the VTIP pilot project should apply online at and will need key pieces of information to complete the application, including the boat title, U.S. Coast Guard documentation or S.C. Department of Natural Resources registration number; vessel hull identification number; vessel material; approximate dimensions and weight of the vessel; and four photos of the vessel (front, back, and both sides).


The first vessel drop-off day will take place in the Charleston County area in June 2024. 


Interested applicants from any of the state’s eight coastal counties are encouraged to apply online by April 5, 2024, to be considered for the pilot VTIP.

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