Lockheed Martin reports construction is complete for the 215,000-sq.ft. advanced manufacturing operation at the aerospace group’s Palmdale, Calif., campus – the research and manufacturing center referred to as the Skunk Works®. While the OEM has not revealed the project focus for the new plant, it reportedly will build fighter jets; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft; hypersonic missiles; and other similar advanced programs.
The Skunk Works has been the site of numerous breakthrough developments in aerospace firsts, including the first U.S. jet fighter (P-80) and the world's first stealth fighter (F-117.)
The new, “intelligent, flexible factory (with) digital foundations” was part of a $400-million capital investment by Lockheed at Palmdale to incorporate smart manufacturing components, embrace the Internet of Things, and deliver new capabilities quickly and affordably, to support the United States and its allies.
It is one of four new U.S. manufacturing plants Lockheed Martin will open this year.
Lockheed engineers and technicians will use digital tools to develop new capabilities, incorporating robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality to reduce the need for hard tooling.
According to Lockheed Martin Skunk Works v.p. and general manager Jeff Babione, "The technology in our new Palmdale facility lets us go beyond manufacturing optimization to the next digital revolution, driving innovation and preserving California's leadership in the aerospace industry."