Skunk Works 75th Anniversary

Defining the Future of Aerospace

Our purpose hasn’t changed. The Skunk Works® team remains connected to founder Kelly Johnson’s vision of a place where small empowered teams created powerful solutions. What Skunk Works cared about in 1943 is what we care about today. Our customers’ missions define our purpose. We thank them for their partnership and allowing us to serve them for 75 years, and we stand ready to tackle their more important missions for the next 75 years and beyond. 

As we look to the future, we see a global landscape that is rapidly evolving. By focusing on our core capabilities, we will continue innovating to provide our customers with cutting technology in the following areas:


SR-71 Blackbird

Skunk Works Approach 

No mission is impossible. Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is committed to quickly developing disruptive solutions to ensure our nation has an absolute advantage.

What sets the Skunk Works apart is its unique approach created by founder Kelly Johnson. This approach is still evidenced today by the small empowered teams, streamlined processes and the culture that values the lessons learned when you are bold enough to attempt something that hasn’t been done before. See case studies for the approach in action. 


History

Unlike most of the work that we do at the Skunk Works, our spirit of innovation is no secret. We thrive on solving difficult problems, and that “can-do” attitude has led to many aerospace firsts and countless disruptive technology innovations.

Our unique organization started in 1943 when visionary Clarence “Kelly” Johnson got the green light to create an experimental engineering department to begin work on the secret XP-80 Shooting Star jet fighter. Johnson and his team designed and built the XP-80 in only 143 days, seven less than was required. It was this project that marked the birth of what would become the Skunk Works with Kelly Johnson at its helm.

What allowed Johnson to operate the Skunk Works so effectively and efficiently was his unconventional organizational approach. He broke the rules, challenging the current bureaucratic system that stifled innovation and hindered progress. His philosophy is spelled out in his "14 rules and practices."

"WE ARE DEFINED NOT BY THE TECHNOLOGIES WE CREATE,
BUT THE PROCESS IN WHICH WE CREATE THEM." 
- KELLY JOHNSON

It is this unique approach that’s garnered seven Collier trophies and the National Medal of Technology. Furthermore, our willingness to take risks to advance aerospace technology has made Lockheed Martin responsible for more X or experimental planes than any other company in the industry.

Just like when we started, we’re not big on titles or protocol – we simply tackle the toughest technical challenges, regularly meeting schedules on time and under budget.