If the US is at the very summit of achieving heights never ever seen before in the field of modern aviation, it has certain aerospace giant to thank for it, a corporation which has made America dream big, a revolutionary company which has its main office on Rockledge Drive in Bethesda, Maryland— Yes, we are talking about the Lockheed Martin.
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An absolute leader in designing state of the art machinery, Lockheed has been the chief architect of US’s most prized possessions in their history, a long list of fighter jets and other aircrafts ranging from the F-35s, F-22 Raptors, F-16 Falcons, F-117 Nighthawk and the SR-71 Blackbird.
Having seen the success of the fifth-generation F-35 Stealth fighter around the globe with the aircraft setting the bar very high for any future fighters, it looks now that Lockheed Martin is ready yet again to dig deep with the aim to develop Pentagon’s next-generation fighter jet.
Last month, it was reported that the Pentagon had secretly flown what was a full-scale flight demonstrator of US Air Force’s mysterious next-generation fighter jet under its ambitious Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program.
While Air Force’s head of acquisition, Will Roper publicly stated that the secret aircraft had “broken records”, there was absolutely no information on the possible design, the capabilities or even which defence contractor designed or prototyped the jet, despite the possibility narrowing down to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing.
However, it looks likely that the developer is none other than Lockheed Martin, with hints already made by the company regarding its growing backlog of classified military work. It includes a project for which Lockheed will have to build a separate new building at the company’s renowned Skunk Works facility in California.
Moreover, the aerospace juggernaut’s Aeronautics division, which includes the Advanced Development Programs shop which spearheaded the creation of the U-2, Blackbird and Nighthawk, has also had substantial growth in its revenue.
Lockheed Martin’s CFO Ken Possenriede, while speaking to Wall Street analysts during the company’s quarterly earnings call, said – “We do anticipate seeing strong double-digit growth at our Skunk Works — our classified Advanced Development Programs,”
We continue to execute on…recent awards.”
Possenriede also shed some light on the classified project which has been the top priority of the Aeronautics division, a sector of which he was a part of between the years of 2016 and 2019.
He said – “It was bid aggressively [and] we happen to have won that one,” he said. “And we’re very happy with the results [and] the outcome right now,”
In the classified area of Aeronautics, there are a multitude of opportunities out there.”
The Next-generation fighter, if currently being developed under the leadership of the firm, will surely capitalize on its stealth feature, along with its strategic aerodynamic design, while also boasting futuristic features like Direct Energy Weapons (DEWS), along with a specific focus on Electronic Warfare (EW).
The fighters under the NGAD program are being aimed to supplement or even replace the F-22 Raptors, with the Air Force currently fielding a limited number of the retired highly stealthy fighters.
According to reports, NGAD’s budget is estimated to be $9 billion from 2019 to 2025, with the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget set at $1 billion.