Safran Announcement Hints At Secret Lockheed Aircraft

Building 648 (right) now sits beside the larger Building 601 (left) on the Skunk Works complex of U.S. Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California
Credit: Steve Trimble/Aviation Week

A cryptic news release by Safran Landing Systems Canada Inc. hints at the existence of a secret Lockheed Martin aircraft project. 

The May 31 news release announces that the Canadian landing gear specialist has received a contract from Lockheed to support a “future aircraft.” 

“This new structure will include a clean sheet design of the nose and main landing gear,” the press release says. 

No further details were provided. 

Lockheed has no announced new aircraft in development, but is competing for the Next Generation Air Dominance programs launched by the U.S. Air Force and Navy. 

Historically, Lockheed’s Skunk Works has developed dozens of aircraft with various levels of secrecy. Some entered production for the Air Force, such as the RQ-170, F-117 and SR-71. Others, such as the X-44A and P-175 Polecat unmanned aircraft systems, functioned as company-funded technology demonstrators. 

A spokeswoman for Lockheed’s Advanced Development Programs unit, also known as Skunk Works, declined to elaborate on the Safran press release. 

“I don’t have any details to share on this effort,” the Lockheed spokeswoman says. 

Last August, the Skunk Works formally opened a new manufacturing building on its compound in Palmdale, California, to support several secret and classified projects. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.