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New Fighter

MarkOttawa

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Looks like LockMart's Skunk Works working on NGAD at new facility (note also hypersonics):

Inside Skunk Works, Lockheed’s super-secret weapons facility​


The world's largest defense contractor opens the gate to its aircraft factory in the desert.

Sixty-two miles north of Los Angeles, this desert town known as America’s Aerospace Valley is home to one of the most secretive aircraft design and production programs on the planet.

Few are allowed in, but the sky is littered with clues of the work being done behind the high fences topped with barbed wire.

It’s routine to spot a U-2 spy plane or a Janet 737, a highly classified fleet of aircraft used to shuttle military and contractors between Palmdale and places such as Area 51, the storied Nevada base.

Back on the ground, at the corner of Sierra Highway and Avenue N, sits an empty lot with a flagpole in the center. Jet spotters and spies from all over the world gather here to catch a glimpse, clicking away as the newest, most top-secret aircraft soar above Skunk Works, Lockheed Martin’s research and development facility. It’s their only chance to see them; there’s no view of the runway or the planes sitting on the tarmac.

For just a few hours last month, Lockheed invited a select group of reporters to tour the massive facility, lifting the veil behind its magic workshop for the first time in eight years. Skunk Works produced the U-2 spy plane that could — and still does — collect images from 70,000 feet; the SR-71 Blackbird, a Mach-3 aircraft that could fly at speeds greater than Mach 3; and the F-117 Nighthawk, the first stealth fighter...

Officially — wink-wink — the reason for the visit was a ribbon-cutting for a new state-of-the-art factory on the 539-acre campus. But unofficially, Lockheed Martin is in the same boat as other contractors: trying to kick up support for more Pentagon business amid flat defense budgets.

Byron Callan, managing director at Capital Alpha Partners, said Lockheed has plenty of reasons to show off its facilities. For example, Skunk Works is investing big in digital engineering, and wants to one-up competitors Boeing and Northrop Grumman, all of which are jockeying for a role in the Air Force's next fighter jet program, known as Next Generation Air Dominance.

...longtime company-man and acting Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Possenriede abruptly retired in August citing personal reasons, and his announcement coincided with Lockheed Martin’s disclosure of a $225 million loss on a classified aeronautics program...

The new factory is Skunk Works’ first since the 1980s. Instead of being designed to assemble a specific aircraft, the building has no fixed machines or tooling, which means it can be easily reconfigured to host new projects, Babione said [emphasis added--Roper's "Digital Century Series" fighters? Roper Lays Out Case for Frequent, Spiral Development for Digital Century Series - Defense Daily].

It’s also the first Skunk Works facility to host secure classified wireless communications, which means employees can digitally transmit information. Previously, everything was done manually on paper. Over the next five years, Lockheed Martin will invest over $2 billion on digital transformation...

Digital engineering is the big new trend in weapons development. The move sets up Skunk Works to create aircraft at a low price by owning a project from birth into adulthood...

In September 2020, Skunk Works disclosed another subproject, Speed Racer. For the first time, a program will go from initial concept to flight test to certification using digital engineering. The flight vehicle configuration appears to be a winged air-launched cruise missile or unmanned aircraft system.

Skunk Works, meanwhile, is also making big bets on hypersonic weapons development, such as the AGM-183 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon that failed a flight test in July. And it’s also chasing the Next Generation Air Dominance program for the Air Force and Navy to replace F/A-18s and F-22s [emphasis added]...

Mark
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