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Lockheed Skunk Works

Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:20 pm

How much work did the Advanced Developement Program team do to help advance the aircraft/military aircraft world? I know that they helped to referbush the U-2Rs, they designed the P-80, SR-71s, F-117, and are working on the JSF. They also designed the A-12 that never was built. Does anyone know much about them or their contributions?
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RE: Lockheed Skunk Works

Thu Mar 30, 2006 3:09 am

Quoting AislepathLight (Thread starter):
They also designed the A-12 that never was built.

I think you are a little confused. The A-12 ATA was designed by McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics. It was cancelled before the prototype was completed. Lockheed's predecessor to the SR-71 was also called the A-12 and 18 were built and flown.

Since 1970, the Skunk Works has built and flown the Have Blue prototypes, the F-117, the YF-22 prototypes, the X-35 prototypes, the Darkstar UAV, JASSM and recently, an airship. They have also reengined the U-2Rs, making them U-2Ss.
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RE: Lockheed Skunk Works

Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:31 am

The original Skunk Works under Kelly Johnson and then Ben Rich was a very unique engineering organization that operated with tremendous amount of independence that allowed a high level of innovation. The current Skunk Works does not have that freedom of operation. The personalities that ran the place allowed for that independence and that mode of management is rare under any circumstances.
Micromanagement is management by fear and the need for control even when you don't understand what is going on. That model is the most common management style and has been for a long time.
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RE: Lockheed Skunk Works

Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:13 am

I absolutely agree with Broke. It's difficult to find top management that is sympathetic to a skunk works operation. Kelly Johnson was lucky that the upper levels of Lockheed let him run the operation the way he wanted it--very little to no oversight from either corporate or the Air Force/customer. He didn't make many friends that way either, and by the time he left the skunk works, Ben Rich was subject to more rules and oversight.

It's unfortunate that an operation such as Kelly Johnson set up cannot operate in today's corporate culture. But then again, Johnson was free from having to comply with safety and environmental regulations, among other things, and he got away with stuff that would NEVER happen today.
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RE: Lockheed Skunk Works

Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:17 am

I agree, that the current Skunk Works should not be compared to its earlier predecessor. Supposedly, the current Skunk Works is working on a stealthy UAV along with an airship.
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
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RE: Lockheed Skunk Works

Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:19 am

By the way, as far as contributions, don't forget the F-104 and F-90. Johnson also designed what became the Jetstar as a skunk works project, although its production was later turned over to Marietta.
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RE: Lockheed Skunk Works

Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:17 pm

This is the new airship designed and built by the Skunk Works:
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RE: Lockheed Skunk Works

Sat Apr 01, 2006 3:06 pm

We do have something along the lines of the skunkworks today. Doesn't Rutan's "Scaled Composites" qualify?
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RE: Lockheed Skunk Works

Sun Apr 02, 2006 2:23 am

From reading a book called "The Skunkworks" I found out that Kelly Johnson got away with more than anyone else ever could have because he went Toe to Toe with anyone who disagreed with him and his way of doing things. It just so happens he was Brilliant and driven and if he were in charge today he would make the skunkworks go like it did before. To get anything done of that type of engineering and secrecy, when he was in charge or now, takes a special leader. He Was One:

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