Lockheed Martin celebrates centennial; gives demonstration of new technology
On Thursday, Aug. 23, officials from Lockheed Martin in Owego, N.Y. gathered with media representatives to provide an update on the Owego facility's business outlook and offer a demonstration of one of their more current technologies, the Desert Hawk III. This demonstration, which offered an inside look at the rugged Unmanned Aircraft System, took place away from the main facility, and followed a briefing by Aviation Systems Vice President and Owego General Manger Dan Spoor and Technical Director John Yuhnick.
Last week, Lockheed Martin celebrated their centennial, and followed that with the overview to media representatives to highlight a history of their programs, and an overview of future prospects and programs. The Owego facility itself has been in the community for 55 years, first as IBM, and then changing hands until it was acquired by Lockheed Martin in 1996.
The 1.7 million square foot campus in Owego, N.Y. sits among 675 acres, and has served as a major employer in the region. With a current workforce of 2,700 employees, Spoor described the numbers as 'flat', and further explained that 60 percent of their current work is defense, with another 15 percent International, and 24 percent comprised of other work areas.
"One of the major aspects of our industry is that we have to keep up with technology," said Spoor. Because of this, he noted, one half of the workforce is comprised of Engineers.
Spoor talked briefly on Owego's history, noting that it has supported the Air Force B-52 Program since 1958, NASA programs since 1964, and has maintained a strong relationship with the United States Navy and the LAMPS program since 1970.
Following the cancellation of the Presidential Helicopter in 2009, three new programs were transferred to the Owego facility from Eagan, Minnesota upon the closure of that facility of 2010. The three programs, according to Spoor, are the P-3, Desert Hawk and Joint Strike Fighter.
Spoor also talked about the K-MAX Unmanned Aircraft, and its current deployment to areas in Afghanistan, where it has already delivered almost two million pounds of supplies.
"One thing we are continuing to work on and move forward with is taking pilots out of aircraft," Spoor noted, talking of other programs that they have set their sights on pursuing.
Some of these programs, he added, include possibly working with the Army on their K-MAX development, a hopeful award for Sikorsky Aircraft and Lockheed on a new Presidential Helicopter bid, an unmanned aircraft for the Navy, and further research and development. Spoor also talked about research and development of Degraded Visual Technology, a technology that will assist aircraft in landing in areas where vision is limited, like in sand.
As for International, Spoor mentioned $7 billion in work is being pursued. He also made mention of non-defense programs that include Postal Service technology, and Healthcare technology that the company is currently in discussions with Lourdes and their Parent Company to offer capabilities.
But on Thursday, officials at Lockheed Martin in Owego were most anxious to demonstrate the Desert Hawk III, and its capabilities.
Weighing under 20 pounds, with a 54-inch wing span, the small unmanned aircraft is intended to fly independently, while capturing aerial video, and offering an idea of what's on the ground. For soldiers who are deployed in hostile environments, according to Technical Director John Yuhnick, it makes all the difference in the world.
"This product saves lives," Yuhnick added.
Currently, Lockheed's Desert Hawk III is being utilized by the UK Ministry of Defence and their markets. The United States Army, they added, is looking to purchase this technology, and Lockheed is hopeful they will be selected. The technology, Yuhnick noted, could potentially be used by law enforcement and border patrol as well.
The Desert Hawk III design and development was an approximately two year process for Lockheed. It was transferred from Eagan in 2010, and has been deployed since 2007 as a product.
The aircraft operates unmanned, and undergoes a flight check, just as any other aircraft would be subject to.
In a remote field utilized by Lockheed for testing, a pilot, Todd Kopl, readied a computer for the aircraft's operation. On the side, Ron Grace and Dan LaDue did an aircraft check, ensuring that everything on the aircraft was functioning.
Once launched, with assistance from Dan LaDue, the aircraft circled within a one-mile radius, and could be spotted off and on in the distance prior to making a graceful landing.
Portable and hand launched, the Desert Hawk III is also battery operated, and has an endurance of approximately 90 minutes. It travels, according to Yuhnick, at approximately 35 knots, but will exceed 50 knots.
The pilot explained the process to media as the Desert Hawk III was in-flight, and made note that they have never lost an aircraft during testing. "If we did," said Kopl, "it has GPS coordinates to locate it." He also noted that it has a fallen tracker that will beep to assist in finding its location. But to date, Kopl emphasized, they haven't lost one.
And that's good news, as the Desert Hawk III, although described as low in price, has a cost attached to its technology. Officials wouldn't disclose the cost for a Desert Hawk III, but noted that it may vary based on payload and capabilities.