In April of 2019, Lockheed Martin Greenville announced the launch of a new F-16 production line, and a ceremony marking the construction of the first F-16 Block 70 aircraft was held in December. Just a few months later, COVID-19 hit, impacting industries in different ways, so we wanted to hear what was happening now at the company. Mike Fox, site director and general manager of the Greenville Operations of Lockheed Martin, answered some of our questions.
What is the current status of the F-16 production?
F-16 production began in Greenville in November 2019, and we currently have five jets in work, at various stages in the manufacturing process. Bahrain was first to select the F-16 Block 70 and we have added several partners since, with additional opportunities on the horizon.
What, if any, impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on production?
We have seen some supplier impacts as a result of COVID-19; however, we are actively working with our suppliers and customers to reduce any impacts and deliver jets that meet customer schedule requirements. We also continue to partner with the DoD to strengthen our supply chain. Lockheed Martin has received more than $1.3 billion in accelerated progress payments from the Pentagon and have flowed all of it to suppliers to ensure we continue to maintain operations and support jobs.
What adjustments have you made to account for social distancing and to maintain the safety of your production team?
We have implemented a flexible teleworking policy for employees who can continue the essential work required to meet our commitments to the U.S. Government and our key allies around the globe from home. We have established minimum staffing and social distancing policies consistent with current federal guidance for our employees who continue to support national security in our plant.
Our Facilities team has increased cleaning schedules across the site, with a high concentration on common areas like lobbies, restrooms, break rooms, and elevators.
We also regularly share exposure-prevention protocols to reinforce healthy behaviors.
With Lockheed Martin having multiple production locations, have most of your adjustments to account for the pandemic been done company-wide or have they been handled at a facility level based on the needs at that location?
The health and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority. We have implemented company-wide guidance and adjustments, such as business travel restrictions, visitor requirements, cleaning procedures, etc., as well as site-specific protocols to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Do you anticipate some permanent changes to your safety protocols due to the pandemic?
The safety protocols we are using have evolved as the CDC has adjusted its guidance based on a growing understanding of the COVID-19 virus. We will continue to use guidance from the CDC and other best practices to provide a safe environment for our employees.
Have there been other impacts holistically to Lockheed Martin as a result of the pandemic and economic slowdown?
Overall, we learned how agile and adaptable our workforce can be to unforeseen situations. As part of the Defense Industrial Base, our operation is considered an essential business, and our employees remain focused on our mission to support our customers while adjusting to the precautionary measures we have instituted.
Local COVID-19 Support
In South Carolina, we are proud to support our community partners with the following contributions:
- $10,000 to the United Way of Greenville County to provide support such as food, shelter, childcare, sanitary and hygiene supplies for the area’s most vulnerable neighbors during this critical time
- $10,000 to the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s One SC Fund to assist with food, shelter, health and non-profit sustainability needs stemming from the pandemic
- 1,000 medical gowns to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) for front-line medical workers
- 1,000 medical gowns to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division
Click here to see community support at the corporate level across the country.