An increasing number of American Allies in Europe want to purchase used F-16 fighter jets. And although the U.S. government must approve all foreign sales, even to allied nations, that does not mean the fighter jets aren’t “flying” off the shelves.
“[T]he demand and interest is greater than I have ever seen,” said Heidi Grant of the F-16, which has fallen out of favor as the new F-35 takes the U.S. military by storm. Grant is the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs.
Romania recently received six F-16s through a third party sale, which had been approved by the U.S. in 2013.
State Department officials also suggested in 2016 that more third party transfers of F-16s may occur with other Eastern European countries.
Other countries that have purchased and now fly F-16s include the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, Greece and Poland.
Grant spoke to reporters during the International Paris Air Show, noting that while the demand was high and the stock relatively low, the U.S. would try to do business where possible.
“There’s a demand for excess F-16s out there from a lot of our European partners. There’s interest, as you see some countries going to the F-35. They may be looking to divest of some of their F-16s and there are partner nations out there that could [buy] those excess,” she said. “It’s more affordable within their defense budgets. We’re working with many countries trying to make these transactions, third-party transfers, work.”
The F-16 was first produced in 1974 by General Dynamics but has been built since 1993 by Lockheed and its successor Lockheed Martin.