Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) completed more than 27,000 hours of simulated flight time on an F-16C Block 50 aircraft and is now analyzing the data to determine the durability of the aircraft beyond its original design service life of 8,000 hours.

The F-16C Block 50 was tested to 27,713 Equivalent Flight Hours (EFH) during 32 rounds of comprehensive stress tests at Lockheed Martin’s Full Scale Durability Test (FSDT) facility in Fort Worth. The airframe was then subjected to several maximum-load conditions to demonstrate that the airframe still had sufficient strength to operate within its full operational flight envelope.

The aircraft is now in the teardown inspection and fractography phase of the test program. Test data, collected over nearly two years, will be used to identify an extended, definitive flight hour limit for the venerable F-16 Fighting Falcon and demonstrate the safety and durability of the aircraft well beyond its original design service life.

The durability test results will be used to help design and verify Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) structural modifications for post-Block 40 F-16s and to support F-16 service life certification to at least 12,000 EFH. The SLEP aims to extend the service life of up to 300 F-16C/D Block 40-52 aircraft.

The SLEP and related avionics upgrades to the Air Force’s F-16C/D fleet can safely and effectively augment the current fighter force structure as U.S. and allied combat air fleets recapitalize with F-35 Lightning IIs.

“The successful completion of this phase of full-scale durability testing demonstrates that this aircraft was built to last,” said Susan Ouzts, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 program. “This should provide even more confidence to current and potential new F-16 customers that the combat-proven F-16 will continue to play a crucial role in international security. Ongoing F-16 modernization programs, notably the F-16V, will ensure that the F-16 flies, fights and wins well into the future.”

For more than 40 years, the F-16 has proven itself as the world’s most capable 4th Generation multi-role fighter, serving as the workhorse of the fighter fleet for 28 customers around the world. The F-16V, the latest F-16 configuration, includes numerous enhancements designed to keep the F-16 at the forefront of international security. Lockheed Martin successfully completed the maiden flight of the F-16V on October 16, 2015. (Original Source)

Shares of Lockheed Martin closed yesterday at $220.59. LMT has a 1-year high of $225.15 and a 1-year low of $181.91. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $210.55 and its 200-day moving average is $199.33.

On the ratings front, Lockheed Martin has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on October 21, Deutsche Bank analyst Myles Walton maintained a Hold rating on LMT. Separately, on the same day, Drexel Hamilton’s Peter Skibitski reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $229.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Myles Walton and Peter Skibitski have a total average return of 8.8% and 14.9% respectively. Walton has a success rate of 72.3% and is ranked #220 out of 3816 analysts, while Skibitski has a success rate of 78.6% and is ranked #899.

The street is mostly Neutral on LMT stock. Out of 7 analysts who cover the stock, 4 suggest a Hold rating and 3 recommend to Buy the stock. The 12-month average price target assigned to the stock is $230.75, which represents a slight upside potential from current levels.

Lockheed Martin Corp is a security and aerospace company. The Company is engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.