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The US Administration's decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan has saved about 5,000 jobs in President George W Bush's [Images] home state, Texas, since makers of the fighter aircraft had been considering axing staff till some time ago, reports said on Saturday.
Lockheed Martin Corp, the builder of the planes, had said it needed new orders for the jet before this fall, or it would have to take action to close the production line that employs about 5,000 workers in Fort Worth, Texas.
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The decision to sell F-16s "is likely to be as warmly greeted in Fort Worth as it is in Karachi," the Washington Post said.
Lockheed, the nation's largest defence contractor, has produced more than 4,000 of the versatile F-16s since the late 1970s, nearly half of them for customers overseas. The Fort Worth plant delivered its last F-16 to the US Air Force [Images] last month, acording to Lockheed Spokesman Tom Jurlowsky, who added that it is still building planes for the governments of Israel, Chile, Poland and the United Arab Emirates.
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Lockheed and other global defence manufacturers, The Washington Post points out, depend on sales of sophisticated military weaponry to boost their profits.
The company has sold F-16s to 24 countries and makes them overseas, too, in Europe, Turkey and South Korea.
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The Fort Worth plant had about 5,800 workers in January 2004. By this January, it was down to about 5,000, and it was scheduled to be down to 4,000 by next January, according to Jurkowsky.
It takes about three years to build an F-16, he added, noting that the company has back orders for about 200 aircraft.
"Right now, the last one would come off the line in 2008," he said.
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