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[Lockheed Martin Aeronautics-Palmdale. (LMAero)]

LM Aero-Palmdale

In October 1999, Skunk Works president and CEO Jack Gordon suddenly steped down. Gordon came from the traditional up-through-the ranks progression of Skunk Works chiefs. On Nov. 1, 1999 Robert T. Elrod was apointed to fill the vacancy. " Elrod, came from Fort Worth, where he was executive vice president of Lockheed's Tactical Aircraft Systems Division . The ascension of Elrod, whose experience is in managing production of F-16s, was a departure the Skunk Works' corporate culture. In the past, Skunk Works leaders rose from the engineering ranks, in the tradition of Kelly Johnson.
On January 28, 2000, Lockheed Martin announced major corporate restructuring.

"I response to poor results in the previous year and continued problems in its aerospace sectors Lockheed Martin Corporation announced reorganisations in its Aeronautical Systems and Space which will result in more than 2800 job losses, although the company says it will result in annual savings of up to $200 million.
[Lockheed Martin Corporate Executive Vice President Dan Hancock. (LM Aero)] The majority of the savings will be achieved in the Aeronautical Systems business area. The plans to streamline management structures, centralise core administrative functions and consolidate selected Aeronautics activities in engineering, production operations and material management. The Aeronautical Systems business area will consolidate its organisation and operations into one company structure named the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company headquartered in Ft. Worth, Texas, led by Dan Hancock, a Lockheed Martin Corporate Executive Vice President. The Palmdale, California (The Skunk Works) site will remain engaged in advanced development initiatives. The Ft. Worth, Texas and Marietta, Georgia facilities will concentrate and focus on aircraft production and assembly.

"These actions are the direct result of our continuing drive to improve our customer focus, flatten our management structure and enhance our financial performance," stated Vance Coffman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin. "They will result in real savings and ensure greater flexibility allowing us to successfully adapt to changing market conditions, maintain the level of program execution our customers expect, while improving our ability to react to new business opportunities,'' he said."

On February 9, 2000 the Antelope Valley Press ran the follwing headline: "Lockheed dumps the Skunk?". Due to the Jan 28, 2000 restructuring, the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and the Skunk Logo would have to go. The Skunk Works will revert from being an independent company, to being an Advanced Development Projects division of the newly created Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company headquartered in Ft. Worth, Texas. As part of the realignment, Paul Martin, Skunk Works executive vice president and former F-117A program manager stepped down.

The Skunk no more?

The Skunk and Skunk Works name was in limbo. The famous "rules" of Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson, the outfit's first leader, had been removed from the Palmdale headquarter's walls.

A terse statement on the topic was issued February 8, 2000 by Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Bethesda, Md., headquarters:

""Skunk Works is a registered trade mark. Lockheed Martin has made no final decisions on the use of the name as related to the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company - Palmdale."
The statement continued: "The aeronautics management team, under the leadership of Dain Hancock, will be named by March 1, 2000. That team will coordinate the appropriate changes and streamlining.""

""The Skunk Works" will revert to being a nickname," company spokesman Gary Grigg said. "Palmdale is now one of three Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. sites."

[Robert T. Elrod. (LM Aero)] Skunk Works interm president Robert Elrod said that the company will honor the heritage of the skunk. He acknowledged a memo that said the Skunk is to be removed from company documents. But he said the company is grappling with how to use the Skunk. Elrod, said the skunk and the Skunk Works are legendary components of the company, and that they'd likely live on in some way.

LM Aero headquarters in Fort Worth issued a memorandum "de-emphasizing" the skunk and "emphasizing" the LM Star logo. The star was placed at the top of all letterheads, and the skunk reduced and relegated to the lower right hand corner. The skunk has been offically removed from everything from department emblems to employee identification badges. (After recieving the new badges, many workers promptly applied skunk stickers to the front and backs.) In the fall of 2000, the skunk logo was removed from Palmdale's offical website. In February 2001, the URL "www.skunkworks.net" now redirects the user to the LM Aero website.

"Home of ADP"

[LM Aero vice president and Palmdale Site manager Richard Baker. (LM Aero)] In June 2000, Lockheed Martin President Dain Hancock told the Valley Press that Richard Baker, former vice president of Combat Weapons System Programs, will be the new vice president and site general manager in Palmdale. Baker replaces Robert Elrod, the Fort Worth-designated troubleshooter who came in to abruptly replace Jack Gordon. In a related development, Gary Ervin, most recently the X-35 project manager, was promoted to vice president of advanced development programs. Baker and Ervin will report to Hancock, chief of the Lockheed Martin Aerospace Co., basically, the aircraft wing of the nation's largest defense contractor. Robert Elrod moved to Executive Vice President of Programs for LMAero.

[Vice President of ADP Gary Ervin. (LM Aero)] In a statement released to media, Hancock said Lockheed's customers "want to see us continue in the tradition of Kelly Johnson, Ben Rich and the other innovators who built the Skunk Works reputation over many successful years. Our ADP efforts will be focused at Palmdale, providing a strengthened development capability for the entire aeronautics company. In essence, ADP will be the 'front end' of all our new business, across the company."

The Skunk is Back!

['Home of ADP'(AV Press)] At the same time a large LM Aero Star was painted on the side of the engineering building. The now "banned" skunk and "Skunk Works" also appeared and the motto: "Home of ADP". Most observers saw this as little more than a symbolic gesture.

On February 8, 2001, the Antelope Valley press reported that the skunk is back! More to come about this latest twist.

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