The defence giant is a likely candidate as the prime contractor for the US Air Force’s new classified sixth generation fighter jet, which is part of the service’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) programme.
The general consensus is one of the three big aerospace defence contractors, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin has built a prototype for NGAD. And only one of those companies currently manufactures a stealth fighter: Lockheed Martin.
The US Air Force revealed in September last year it had designed, built and flown a prototype of the fighter in just one year.
“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it,” Will Roper told Defense News. “We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before.”
USAF developed the secret fighter jet with digital engineering technology that dramatically shortens development time for new aircraft.
In October 2020, Lockheed Martin executives also dropped hints about the company’s growing backlog of classified military work, including one project that requires building a new facility at its secretive Skunk Works facility in California.
They also pointed to revenue growth within the company’s aeronautics division, which includes Skunk Works, the official nickname of the Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs.
“We do anticipate seeing strong double-digit growth at our Skunk Works…” Lockheed CFO Ken Possenriede said during the company’s quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts. “We continue to execute on recent awards.”
During an interview after the call, Defense One reports Possenriede mentioned a classified project that was the aeronautics division’s “top priority when he worked there between 2016 and 2019.”
He said the company needs to build a building for a classified project in Palmdale, adding that “there are other customers that have a keen interest in that programme.”
These increases in classified work were offset by lower net sales of approximately $65 million for the F-35 programme and about $65 million for the F-22 programme due to decreased volume on sustainment contracts.
Overall, the company’s aeronautics division’s net sales in the first quarter of 2021 were comparable with the same period in 2020.