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New Boss at Skunk Works


Apr 21, 2009
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Lockheed Skunk Works To Get New Chief
Dec 3, 2010

By Amy Butler abutler@aviationweek.com

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works — known for its revolutionary technology work in building the SR-71, F-117 and F-35 — will have a new vice president and general manager. Frank Cappuccio, the unit’s longtime head, is stepping down in June. He led the company’s successful Joint Strike Fighter competition win over Boeing. Al Romig, deputy vice president and deputy director of the Sandia National Laboratories, will join Skunk Works in January and take over from Cappuccio later in the year. Romig’s work at Sandia began in 1979, and he has established strong relationships with customers in the U.S. Energy Department.

During the January-June period, Romig and Cappuccio will both report directly to Ralph Heath, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; this sector manages the C-130J, C-5M, F-16, F-22 and F-35 programs. JSF work will eventually account for a major portion of Lockheed’s revenues. The Pentagon plans to spend at least $380 billion on the single-engine stealthy aircraft. And despite massive cost overruns since 2001, the aircraft is poised to set the standard for international sales, following in the wake of the F-16.

Heath says his sector has a 250-aircraft backlog across four active production lines. He also notes that the Pentagon is “at the onset” of some major recapitalization decisions amid growing pressure to reduce military spending. “We are honing our edges to make sure we have the right discriminating technologies,” says Heath, who briefed investors on Dec. 2 at the Credit Suisse/Aviation Week Aerospace and Defense Finance conference in New York.

Besides capturing the Joint Strike Fighter, Cappuccio made inroads in the burgeoning unmanned vehicle arena. The company’s unclassified unmanned work is scant, but indications are that progress is being made in the black world. In 2009, the U.S. Air Force acknowledged the existence of the RQ-170 Sentinel, an unmanned aircraft spotted in Afghanistan. The aircraft’s mission has not yet been announced, but the system is said to be supporting operations — likely through intelligence collection — abroad.

“Winning the JSF competition and the success of a number of classified programs critical to our nation’s security are examples of the effectiveness of Frank’s vision and leadership,” Heath told Lockheed employees in a Dec. 3 memo.

During his time at Skunk Works, Cappuccio also acted as an informal adviser to Heath on long-term strategy for the aeronautics sector. Though Romig will take on some of this work, he is likely to have a lesser role in overall strategy for the sector, one company official says.

Skunk Works also is crafting various concepts for high-speed missiles and long-range attack platforms. Despite his departure, Cappuccio’s vision for long-range strike should bolster the company’s future work on a next-generation bomber for the U.S. Air Force. This is likely to be the next big competition at the Pentagon, and perhaps the only one to come for many years.
Bolding mine.


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VP of Skunk Works Addresses ASM Dr. Alton Romig, Jr., VP and general manager, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, addressed attendees of the 50th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting Wednesday, 11 January. The event is taking place in Nashville, TN, 9–12 January. Dr. Romig discussed UAVs, noting that although the vehicles are doing the dull, dirty, and dangerous work, the amount of manpower involved is intense. In order to decrease the manpower required, UAVs must begin to do more on their own; to ultimately think and learn.

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