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Skunk works

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Skunkworks redirects here. For the heavy metal album by Bruce Dickinson, please see Skunkworks (album)
A modern Skunk works project leverages an older:  and .
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A modern Skunk works project leverages an older: LASRE and SR-71 Blackbird.

Skunk works is a term used in aerospace engineering and other engineering and technical applications for secret (black) projects.

Contents

As used by Lockheed

The Skunk Works is the unofficial name for Lockheed Martin's Lockheed Advanced Development Projects Unit and was the production unit responsible for a number of famous aircraft, including the U-2, the SR-71, and the F-117. Its newest project of note is the F-35 JSF (Joint Strike Fighter), which will be used in the air forces of several countries around the world. Production is expected to last for up to 4 decades.

The history of the Skunk Works began with the World War II period, when the black projects of the Skunk Works were located near the Burbank Airport, now renamed Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California. The legendary Kelly Johnson and team developed the P-80 Shooting Star in a circus tent set in the parking lot (as there was no existing secure area) in only 143 days. This aircraft was the U.S. Air Force's first operational jet fighter. Kelly Johnson headed the Skunk Works until 1975, when Ben Rich took over leadership.

After the end of the Cold War in 1989, Lockheed reorganized its operations and relocated the Skunk Works to Site 10 at U. S. Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California where it is still in operation today.

The Skunk Works used the Groom Dry Lake Air Force Base in the Nevada desert for testing their secret aircraft prototypes.

Lockheed now considers the term "Skunk Works" to be a trademark of theirs, and has several registrations of it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. They have filed several challenges against registrants of domain names containing variations on the term under anti-cybersquatting policies.

Term origin

One suggestion for the origin of the name for the secret facility is that it was coined due to it being down wind of a odorous plastics factory.

Another suggestion is that the name came from the popular comic strip Li'l Abner by cartoonist Al Capp. In the comic, the Skonk Works was a small factory whose business used skunks (the exact nature of this enterprise was never explained). The Skonk Works was located far from other human habitation due to the terrible odor, and people who worked at the Skonk Works could only communicate with people of the outside world by yelling at them from a great distance while downwind. On the request of the copyright holders, Lockheed changed the name of the development facility to Skunk Works.

Aircraft created by the Skunk Works

See also

External links

Literature

  • Rich, Ben; Janos, Leo. (1996) Skunk Works. Little, Brown & Company, ISBN 0316743003

ja:スカンクワークス de:Skunk works

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