Lockheed Martin – World’s Largest Defence Contractor – Some of the Greatest Aerospace Platforms

anil chopra, air power asai, aerospace, Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin Corporation is an American aerospace, defence, arms, security, and advanced technologies company with worldwide interests. It is the world’s largest defence contractor, with net sales of $59.8 billion in 2019, a record order book of $144 billion, and market capitalization was valued at US$109.83 billion at end of 2019. Lockheed Martin ranked No. 57 in the 2020 Fortune 500 list of the largest corporations by total revenue (down from No. 56 in 2019).

U-2S Dragon Lady. Picture Source: lockheedmartin.com

          Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. It was formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. Over half of the company’s annual sales are to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Lockheed Martin is also a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance airplane. Picture Source: Wikipedia

          Lockheed Martin operates in four business segments, Aeronautics; Missiles and Fire Control (MFC); Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS); and Space. The company has received the Collier Trophy six times. The trophy is an annual aviation award administered by the U.S. National Aeronautics Association (NAA), and presented to those who have made “the greatest achievement in aeronautics and astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year. Lockheed’s trophy included in 2001 for being part of developing the X-35/F-35B lift fan propulsion system and more recently in 2018 for the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS). Lockheed Martin is currently developing and producing the F-35 Lightning II. It also leads the team for the development and implementation of technology solutions for the new USAF Space Fence (AFSSS replacement), and is the primary contractor for the development of the Orion command module, the partially reusable space capsule to be used in NASA’s human spaceflight programs. The company also invests in healthcare systems, renewable energy systems, intelligent energy distribution, and compact nuclear fusion.

F-117 Nighthawk. Picture Source: Wikipedia

Lockheed Martin – Story of Great Platforms

          Before the merger, Lockheed products included the Trident missile, P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance airplanes, F-117 Nighthawk, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor, C-130 Hercules, A-4AR Fighting Hawk, and the DSCS-3 satellite. Martin Marietta products included Titan rockets, Sandia National Laboratories management, Space Shuttle external tank, Viking 1 and 2 landers, and various satellite models. On April 22, 1996, Lockheed Martin completed the acquisition of Loral Corporation’s defense electronics and system integration businesses for $9.1 billion. Lockheed Martin abandoned plans for an $8.3 billion merger with Northrop Grumman on July 16, 1998, due to government concerns over the potential strength of the new group; Lockheed/Northrop would have had control of 25% of the Department of Defense’s procurement budget. In 2001, Lockheed Martin won the contract to build the F-35 Lightning II, making it the largest fighter aircraft procurement project since the F-16, with an initial order of 3,000 aircraft.

F-16 Fighting Falcon. Picture Source: nationalinterest.org

          On August 31, 2006, Lockheed Martin won a $3.9 billion contract from NASA to design and build the CEV capsule, later named “Orion”  for the Ares I rocket in the Constellation Program. On August 13, 2008, Lockheed Martin acquired the government business unit of Nantero, Inc., a company that had developed methods and processes for incorporating carbon nano-tubes in next-generation electronic devices. In 2009, Lockheed Martin bought Universal Systems & Technology, Inc. (Unitech).

F-22 Raptor. Picture Source: businessinsider.in

Acquires More Companies For Technology

          On May 25, 2011 Lockheed Martin bought the first Quantum Computing System from D-Wave Systems. Lockheed Martin and D-Wave will collaborate to realize the benefits of quantum computing. On May 28, 2011 it was reported that a cyber-attack using previously stolen EMC files had broken through to sensitive materials at the contractor. The incident perhaps prompted on June 1, 2011, for U.S. to announce the new military strategy, making explicit that a cyber-attack is Casus belli for a traditional act of war. On January 7, 2013, Lockheed Martin Canada announced that it will be acquiring the engine maintenance, repair and overhaul assets from Aveos Fleet Performance in Montreal, Canada. On July 3, 2013, Lockheed Martin announced that it was partnering with Dream Hammer to use the company’s software for integrated command and control of its unmanned aerial vehicles. Lockheed Martin teamed up with Bell Helicopters to propose the V-280 Valor tiltrotor for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. In November 2015, Lockheed Martin acquired “Sikorsky Aircraft” from United Technologies Corporation for $9 billion. In February 2020, Lockheed Martin reportedly plans to acquire the Victor Launch Inc’s satellite technology after a bankruptcy court received no bids by the February 21 deadline.

IAF’s C-130J Super Hercules. Picture Source: defenseworld.net

New Contracts

          On June 2, 2014, Lockheed Martin received a Pentagon contract to build a space fence that would track debris, keeping it from damaging satellites and spacecrafts. In September 2014, Lockheed agreed a deal to sell 40 F-35 fighters to South Korea for delivery between 2018 and 2021, for $7.06 billion. Lockheed Martin has shown sketches for a twin-engine, blended wing body strategic airlifter similar in size to the C-5. On March 31, 2015, the US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth $362 million for construction of Freedom-class ship LCS 21 and $79 million for advanced procurement for LCS 23. In December 2015, Lockheed won an $867 million seven-year contract to train Australia’s next generation of military pilots, with options to extend. In August 2016, Canadian Forces Maritime tested an integrated submarine combat system developed by Lockheed Martin. The test marked Canada’s first use of the combat system with the MK 48 heavyweight torpedo, variant 7AT.

Titan IV Rocket. Picture Source: Wikipedia

          On August 13, 2018 Lockheed Martin announced that the company had secured contract from the United States Air Force (USAF) to develop a hypersonic weapon prototype. On November 29, 2018, Lockheed Martin was awarded a Commercial Lunar Payload Service contract by NASA, which makes it eligible to bid on delivering science and technology payloads to the Moon for NASA, worth $2.6 billion. Lockheed Martin plans to formally propose a lander called “McCandless Lunar Lander”, named after the late astronaut and former Lockheed Martin employee Bruce McCandless II, who in 1984 performed the first free-flying spacewalk without a lifeline to the orbiting shuttle, using a jetpack built by the company. This lander would be based on the successful design of the “Phoenix” and “InSight” Mars landers.

McCandless Lunar Lander. Image Source: hou.usra.edu

          On April 11, 2019 at 6:35 pm EDT, Arabsat-6A satellite was successfully launched. This satellite is one of two, the other being SaudiGeoSat-1, both being “most advanced commercial communications satellites ever built by” Lockheed Martin. On September 23, 2019, Lockheed Martin and NASA signed a $4.6–billion contract to build six or more Orion capsules for NASA’s Artemis program to send astronauts to the Moon. In January 2020 the Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Lockheed Martin with a $138 million contract related with the AEGIS Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA). The LMT Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS) unit of the company is to develop, integrate, test, and deliver the AEGIS Advanced Capability Build (ACB) 20 integrated combat system. Lockheed Martin will work on the AEGIS. The project is expected to be completed by December 2020. Lockheed Martin has already begun to help the military transition to renewable energy sources with solar photovoltaic powered micro grids as the military aims to reach 25% renewable energy by 2025.

Freedom-class littoral combat ship. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans/Released

          In January 2020, the Pentagon found at least 800 software defects in the Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jets owned by the US Armed Forces during an annual review. The 2018 and 2019 reviews revealed a large number of defects as well.

Lockheed Martin Built NASA’s Orion Capsule. Image Source: spacenews.com

Advanced Design and Development Division – Skunk Works

Skunk Works is an official pseudonym for Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs (ADP), formerly called Lockheed Advanced Development Projects. It is responsible for a number of aircraft designs, including the U-2, the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-117 Nighthawk,   F-22 Raptor, and the F-35 Lightning II, which are used in the air forces of several countries. Its name was taken from the moonshine factory in the comic strip “Li’l Abner”. The designation “skunk works” is widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, with the task of working on advanced or secret projects.

C-5 Galaxy. Picture Source: fi-aeroweb.com

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company 

          Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company is a major unit with headquarters at Fort Worth, Texas. Some other products include the A-4AR Fighting hawk, C-130 Hercules, C-141 Star Lifter, C-5 Galaxy, F-16 Fighting Falcon, Japanese Mitsubishi F-2, F-21 with   Tata Advanced Systems to produce in India, P-3 Orion, T-50 Eagle advanced jet trainer produced in partnership with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

T-50 Eagle advanced jet trainer. Picture Source: http://gentleseas.blogspot.com/

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control 

          Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) is one of the four core business areas of the company. MFC provides air and missile defense systems; tactical missiles and air-to-ground precision strike weapon systems; logistics; fire control systems; mission operations support, readiness, engineering support and integration services; manned and unmanned ground vehicles; and energy management solutions. MFC has approximately 15,500 employees. Its major Products among the Air and Missile Defense systems are the MEADS system, PAC-3 missile, the THAAD system, and Miniature Hit-to-Kill (HTK) systems. The Strike weapons include JASSM, AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). The tactical missiles include the Hellfire, Javelin, Joint Common Missile (JCM), Longbow missile, Long range Land Attack Projectile, among many others. They also produce sniper targeting pod for U.S. Air Force aircraft.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). Picture Source: Wikipedia

Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS)

            Current major products of RMS include the Aegis combat system, the Mk41 Vwertical Launching System, the Desert Hawk UAV, the AN/SPY-1 naval RADAR systems, AN/SQQ-89 SONAR system,  and tactical avionics for the F-35  and the F-16. Products in development include the Space Fence radar, Integrated Deepwater System Program (in partnership with Northrop Grumman), Medium Extended Air Defence system, and the Littoral Combat Ship. Sikorsky Aircraft was established by Russian–American aviator Igor Sikorsky in 1923 and was among the first companies to manufacture helicopters for civilian and military use. Previously owned by United Technologies Corporation (UTC), in November 2015 Sikorsky was sold to Lockheed Martin. Among its many famous and successful products are SH-3 Sea King ASW, SAR and transport helicopter;  HH-52 Seaguard amphibian helicopter; CH-54 “flying crane”; CH-53 Sea Stallion medium/heavy lift transport; UH-60 Black Hawk Stealth Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS); SH-60 Sea Hawk, US Navy anti-ship warfare, combat, SAR, support, Medevac; HH-60 Pave hawk, USAF combat, SAR, Medevac with PAVE electronics; S-92 based H-92 Super Hawk twin-turbine medium-lift developed from the S-70, and Ch-53 King Stallion.

Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. Picture Source: Wikipedia

Lockheed Martin Space 

          It is one of the four major business divisions. The division currently employs about 16,000 people, and its most notable products are commercial and military satellites, space probes, missile defense systems, NASA’s Orion spacecraft, and the Space Shuttle external tanks. Among Strategic and Missile Defense Systems are missiles, hypersonic reentry vehicles, kill vehicles, battle management software, and directed energy weapons. Notable among them are the Terminal High Altitude Area  Defense (THAAD), USAF ICBM Reentry Systems, Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM), Targets and Countermeasures (Unarmed ballistic missile targets used in testing of the elements of the Ballistic Missile Defense System).

Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile. Picture Source: lockheedmartin.com

Lockheed aircraft With Indian Armed Forces

          IAF purchased six Lockheed C-130J-30s Super Hercules aircraft in early 2008 at a cost of over US$ 1.2 billion for its special operations forces under US government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Seven more were ordered later. The US has approved the sale of 24 Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky multi-role MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters to India at an estimated cost of US$ 2.6 billion. They will boost the Indian Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations.

Sikorsky multi-role MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopter. Picture Source: defpost.com

Lockheed Martin Firmly in India

          Lockheed Martin, has been looking for a “game-changing” partnership in India. They have been in India for more than 25 years. They have a joint venture company with Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Limited (TASL) where airframe components for the C-130J airlifter and the S-92 helicopter are manufactured in India. Since production began in 2010, TASL has delivered 120 cabins fully Made-in-India.Today, production of more than 5,000 precision components that compose each S-92 cabin is 100 percent indigenous to India. All C-130Js delivered to customers around the world have major aero-structure components from India.

F-16 production line in Greenville, South Carolina. Picture Source: tns.world

           Lockheed is actively supporting the Digital India, Skill development, and Start-up India and Make-in-India programs.  “We have currently integrated over 70 Indian suppliers including Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) into our global supply chain” said Dr Vivek Lall, the then Vice President Aeronautics and Business Development. “Our partnership with the Indian industry on both the F-21 (for IAF) and S-76D multi-role helicopter (Indian Navy) proposals will put India at the epicenter of world’s largest defence ecosystem and deliver unmatched sustainment and export opportunities” he added. 2250 F-16 are still flying globally. TASL has been chosen to produce the F-16s in India. The entire production plant will be shifted to India. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin has begun building F-16 wings and will start exporting from the facility in Hyderabad in 2020.

S-92 cabin Being Built in India. Picture Source: nairaland.com

          In July 2019. Lockheed Martin signed MoUs with Indian startups to boost India’s aerospace and defence industry US-based Lockheed Martin signed MoUs with Terero Mobility, Sastra Robotics, and NoPo Nanotechnologies to integrate with its supply chain and boost India’s and aerospace and defence industry.

          Lockheed has been showcasing many other systems to the Indian Armed Forces. Lockheed Martin is a leader in UAV technologies, ranging from micro-UAVs such as the Stalker or Desert Hawk III to larger platforms like the Reaper. They have been actively pursuing UAV opportunities for both the military and civil markets in India.

          The Super Hercules is also part of India’s C-130J Roll-On/Roll-Off University Design Challenge. Through this initiative, Lockheed Martin provides research grants for teams from Indian universities to work with local industry partners and mentors from India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to develop design specifications for proposed modules that could be used on a Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules cargo aircraft.

Political Networking

          According to the magazine Politico, Lockheed Martin has “a political network that is already the envy of its competitors”, and its contracts enjoy wide bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress thanks to it having “perfected the strategy of spreading jobs on weapons programs in key states and congressional districts”. As per Forbes report dated May 14, 2019 by Adam Andrzejewski,  writes that “We also found that in September 2018, the final month of fiscal year, Lockheed Martin and Boeing received $14 billion in federal contracts in a use-it-or-lose-it spending-spree. Lobbying persuades and influences, and it works. The top ten Fortune 100 companies receiving the most federal funding saw an ROI on lobbying of 1,000 to 1. In other words, $1 invested in lobbying returned $1,000 in federal contracts and grants. The top 10 Fortune 100 companies spending the most on lobbying include DowDuPont, Boeing, Alphabet/Google, AT&T, Comcast, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, FedEx, ExxonMobil, and Verizon. Lockheed Martin Employees Political Action Committee is one of the 50 largest in the country, according to FEC data. With contributions from 3,000 employees, it donates $500,000 a year to about 260 House and Senate candidates.

AN/SPY-1 naval RADAR systems. Picture Source: missilethreat.csis.org

Customer Commitment and Quality Assurance

          As per Lockheed Martin website says: Every day, our 110,000 employees come to work with one focus – our customers’ missions. Whether it’s protecting citizens or advancing the boundaries of science, these missions are some of the most important and challenging in the world. We bring an unwavering commitment to help our customers succeed, and it’s that sense of purpose and opportunity to make a difference in the world that drives us every day. We’re delivering full-spectrum cyber capabilities and cyber resilient systems to our defense, intelligence community and global security customers. Lockheed Martin is inspired by their missions and we’re dedicated to helping governments and militaries around the world protect their platforms, systems, networks and data by doing the following.

          Going to space is just the beginning. It’s what you do when you get there that matters. We build satellites and spacecraft that do amazing things in space for government and commercial customers. Lockheed Martin-built satellites give earlier warning of severe weather, connect troops on the battlefield, and deliver GPS directions to a billion people worldwide. As we look to the future, we’re driving innovations to help our customers do even more in orbit. That’s why we’re designing smarter satellites that operate like smart-phones in the sky, with apps that can be updated in orbit so they can adapt as mission needs on the ground change. Your mission is ours. And as that mission evolves, we’ll be ready. 

Lockheed Martin-built satellites. Picture Source: lockheedmartin.com

The Highest Stakes Demand the Highest Degree of Precision

          Shooting a missile down with a missile was once a concept only dreamed up in science fiction novels. We’ve made it scientific fact says Lockheed Martin. So what does it take to spot an enemy missile launch, identify its intended target, calculate its exact trajectory, launch an interceptor and guide it to destroy the threat in mid-air? All in a matter of seconds? It’s not easy – but at Lockheed Martin, we help customers solve the world’s most complex challenges. Whether you’re just “taking off” on your laptop or training to become an F-35 pilot, the latest release of Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D software brings flight training even closer to reality. Private pilots, commercial organizations, academia, and militaries have relied on Prepar3D for immersive, experiential learning for almost 10 years. Prepar3D Version 5 is the first step in the development of an all-new platform built for next-generation simulation and training. This foundational release uses the latest DirectX 12 rendering engine for unparalleled performance, breathtaking weather visuals and a fully updated globe.

Autonomous and Unmanned Systems and Artificial Intelligence

          Technology is transforming how humans and machines work together. That’s why Lockheed Martin is investing in the development of optionally-manned and unmanned systems that serve as a capability multiplier. Because we recognize that the question isn’t just about who’s the best person for the job—it’s about what’s the best team for the mission. In an AI-enhanced future, humans will become better at everything; they’ll also become safer, less vulnerable to danger. That’s why Lockheed Martin continues to invest in and expand our AI and autonomy capabilities. AI adds value to almost all our products and systems, supporting both military and commercial customers. AI-enabled autonomous systems are changing the way militaries operate and protect their forces, the way first responders fight fires, how researchers explore the far reaches of space and the ocean’s depths.

F-35A. Picture Source: Picture Source: news.usni.org

The Current Top End: F-35 Lightning II

          The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft meant to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.   The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A (CTOL), the short take-off and vertical-landing F-35B (STOVL), and the carrier-based F-35C (CV/CATOBAR). The F-35A did its first flight on 15 December 2006. 535+ have been built as of July 2020.

F35-B Lightning II. Picture Source: ukaviation.news

          The aircraft descends from the Lockheed Martin X-35, which in 2001 beat the Boeing X-32 to win the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Its development is principally funded by the United States, with additional funding from program partner countries from NATO and close U.S. allies, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and formerly Turkey. Several other countries have ordered, or are considering ordering, the aircraft. The program has drawn much scrutiny and criticism for its unprecedented size, complexity, ballooning costs, and much-delayed deliveries. The acquisition strategy of concurrent production of the aircraft while it was still in development and testing led to expensive design changes and retrofits.

F 35 Cockpit. Picture Source: Pinterest

          The F-35B entered service with the U.S. Marine Corps in July 2015, followed by the U.S. Air Force F-35A in August 2016 and the U.S. Navy F-35C in February 2019. The F-35 was first used in combat in 2018 by the Israeli Air Force. The U.S. plans to buy 2,456 F-35s through 2044, which will represent the bulk of the crewed tactical airpower of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps for several decades. The aircraft is projected to operate until 2070.

The F-35 serves as the backbone of airpower for 13 nations and numbers are going up. Playing a critical role in joint domain operations, the fighter brings unprecedented situational awareness, information sharing and connectivity to the coalition. The F-35 strengthens national security, enhances global partnerships and powers economic growth. As the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter jet in the world, the F-35 gives pilots the critical advantage against any adversary, enabling them to execute their mission and come home safe. The Program Cost is estimated as US$ 428.4 billion (through 2044 in then-year dollars), $1,196.4 billion for operations & sustainment (through 2077 in then-year dollars) (2019 estimate).

Picture Source: va.org


Published by Anil Chopra

I am the founder of Air Power Asia and a retired Air Marshal from the Indian Air Force.

11 thoughts on “Lockheed Martin – World’s Largest Defence Contractor – Some of the Greatest Aerospace Platforms

  1. Lockheed, a company that became what is now Lockheed Martin (on its merger with Martin Marietta), is a company that has been described in great detail above. It owes it’s accomplishments in no small measure to ONE SINGLE legendary and iconic person, an airplane designer. That person is Clarence Leonard “Kelly” Johnson. One cannot do justice to him and/or his capabilities as a designer, in a paragraph or two. It would need a volume in itself. Suffice it to say that his outstanding military winner projects were P-38 Lightning, U-2, SR-71 Blackbird, and F-104 Starfighter. and host of other lesser-known combat aircraft. He also had to his credit a huge number of civilian aircraft.

    He joined Lockheed on graduating from college in 1933 at age 23 and “formally” retired at age 65 in 1975. He, however, continued in an advisory capacity for many years after that. He commemorated his unbroken half-century with Lockheed in 1983. He was offered the presidentship of Lockheed for an unprecedented three times and he refused it each time only to oversee the “Skunk Works”, the design department. In total, Johnson shepherded some forty military and civilian aircraft into production. Countless medals and honors followed, including Collier Trophies, the Medal of Freedom, National Medal of Science, and National Security Medal.

    But it was Hall Hibbard, Kelly’s boss, who summed up his abilities best.“That damn Swede,” (referring to his Swedish ancestry) Hibbard said, “can actually see air.” He was a born engineer—“I knew I wanted to design airplanes since I was twelve years old,” he once said, and his guiding principle was KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.he died at age 80 in 1990. A legend if ever there was one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very well said Sir. This greatly adds to the story and showcases people who made the company so great. Surely each comapny requires a Clarence Leonard “Kelly” Johnson to become great. Thanks for leaving this very important comment. Regards

    Liked by 1 person

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