Built around the genius of aeronautical engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson and his successors, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation created the “Skunk Works” division dedicated to secretive development of advanced aeronautical hardware. By the 1950s they had secured a contract with the CIA for the U-2 spy plane, followed by the SR-71 Blackbird in the 1960s. Serving the Air Force for 25 years, the Blackbird holds the world record for fastest operational warplane in history, and the Skunkworks legacy continues to this day in the modern stealth aircraft such as the F-117 and F-22 Raptor.
— References —
– Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed, Rich (1996)
– Reshaping an Industry: Lockheed Martin’s Survival Story, Augustine (1997) – https://hbr.org/1997/05/reshaping-an-industry-lockheed-martins-survival-story
– Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex, Hartung (2010)
– Target Silicon Valley: Why A View to a Kill actually made sense, Fay (2012) – https://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/08/view_to_a_kill/
– China stole F-35 blueprints from Lockheed, Snowden data appears to show (2015) – https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/01/19/national/china-stole-f-35-blueprints-lockheed-snowden-data-appears-show/
– The Projects of Skunk Works: 75 Years of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs, Pace (2016)