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Some 78 military officers from 16 countries flying U.S.-made F-16 Fighting Falcons and nearly 400 representatives of about 100 American companies have concluded a four-day conference on how to maintain and improve the aircraft.

If the Air Force develops a component to strengthen the F-16, or a new software system or a maintenance refinement, "we want to make sure the foreign governments know about it," said Richard Lemmons, head of the F-16 Technical Coordination Group at Hill Air Force Base, the conference host.When a foreign government buys a fleet of F-16s, Lemmons said Wednesday, the United States provides fleet maintenance "or teaches them how to do it."

One item delegates at the 10th annual Worldwide Review Conference discussed was a proposal for a maintenance-free battery for F-16s, reducing the amount of time ground crews spend to keep the plane flying.

The F-16 went into service in January 1979 and it is expected to continue serving as one of the world's top multirole fighters for years to come as advancements in technology continue to improve the aircraft.

"It's a much better plane today than the original design," Lemmons said. "It's a helluva plane as you can see by the number of people here who fly it."