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High Flying: Lockheed Martin [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Cover story
Spring 2003
Photo by Hilary Schwab

ON THE SECOND FLOOR OF Crystal Square Two, a woman’s heart is pounding, her palms sweating. She has just been strapped into the cockpit of a F-22 in the flight demonstration center at Lockheed Martin headquarters.

One of the new fighter planes in development by the giant aeronautics company, the F-22 is filled with buttons and gadgets and doesn’t offer much wiggle room for the civilian sitting inside. “I have this fear that if I push the wrong button, the whole plane is going to launch through the ceiling,” she confides.

For those who enjoy the thrill of flight, an afternoon spent at Lockheed Martin’s Flight Demonstration Center is better than a trip to Disneyland, when it comes to showing off the high-tech capabilities of the multi-million dollar jets that Lockheed Martin expects to be in operation by 2005.

The center showcases two next-generation fighter aircraft, the F/A-22 and the F-35 joint Strike Fighter. Two flight simulators (exact replicas of these fighter aircraft cockpits) are set up to take visitors on virtual flight missions.

But few get to glimpse Lockheed Martin’s latest high-tech jets. Prototype planes are locked behind closed doors, and only Congressmen, visiting dignitaries, and high-ranking members of the Department of Defense are invited in.

“The Flight Demonstration Center gives us the ability to show decision makers first hand just how special our aircraft are,” explains Brian Dailey, Senior Vice President of Lockheed Martin’s Washington Operations Center.

During the last few years, Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautic division has signed contracts to supply the world’s military forces with a number of fighter jets. Last year, sales for this portion of the Bethesda-based company accounted for 25% of the company’s total earnings, topping $6.4 billion.

Aeronautics, however, is but one part of Lockheed Martin, which in 2001 reported sales of $26.6 billion. In 2002, the Systems Integration portion of the company brought in $9.6 billion, its Space Systems generated $7.4 billion, and the Technical Services group earned $3.1 billion.

In fact, overall growth for the company has increased enormously since March 1995, when Lockheed merged with then competitor Martin Marietta. Today, the corporation employs approximately 125,000 people worldwide, and is engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, and integration of advanced technology systems.

Not far from the flight demonstration room is the Global Vision Center, a state-of-the-art conference and networking facility designed to show policymakers and government leaders how Lockheed Martin’s sophisticated high-tech products can be networked together.

“We built the Global Vision Center here in Crystal City because we wanted our customers to see first hand how we can implement network-based solutions to meet their needs,” says Dailey, adding that the Global Vision Center is the ideal spot to conduct real-time, networked simulations for military, homeland security, and peace-keeping forces. “That is why we decided to put these special centers in Crystal City. It is close to the Pentagon, Homeland Security, Regan National Airport, and Capitol Hill, so anyone who needs to see what we’re doing can visit for an hour or two.”

Indeed, Lockheed Martin’s Washington Operations Center (Wash Ops to those on the inside), located in Crystal City, serves as the focal point to facilitate, arrange, and manage Lockheed Martin’s Washington-based customer interfaces with all branches of the United States Government.

“We exist to aid the efforts of the corporation’s business units to further program development, improve customer relations, and keep current government customers sold on the added value that current Lockheed Martin products and services provide,” Dailey explains.

“The general public perception is that Lockheed Martin is a fighter aircraft, satellite, and launch vehicle manufacturer,” said Dailey. “However, the merger created a corporation with great technological depth-with a growing investment in information technologies that span far beyond traditional platform manufacturing. Many don’t know this, but since the mid-1990s, Lockheed Martin has been the largest single IT provider to the federal government.”

As a systems integrator-creating sophisticated, large-scale systems out of smaller ones-Lockheed Martin’s expertise is applied to a variety of other government programs. For instance, the company has been working with the National Weather Service in Norman, OK, to integrate an advanced technology tool that provides timely and accurate weather predictions. The technology-which until now has been used primarily on Navy frigates to warn sailors of possible missile, aircraft, or submarine threats replaces old Doppler radar technology. Called SPY-1, it analyzes and classifies up to 2,000 tracks per-second (the human eye achieves only one or two tracks per second).

In addition, Lockheed Martin sold Optical Character Recognition technology to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which was launched in 2002. An outgrowth of the technology designed for military and space programs, the system now enables postal machines to read handwritten addresses-a huge help to the USPS, which manages millions of pieces of mail that pass through the 40,000 post offices across the country.

“In the last three years, the USPS has save more than $400 million in annual operating costs,” says Phil Baldwin, manager of headquarters purchasing for the USPS. “It has helped us transition from old systems to quality driven automation programs, made us more efficient, and saved the organization a bundle of money. This program is a benchmark for us.”

Lockheed Martin has also marketed its military processing technology to the FBI, helping it to ramp up an Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).

IAFIS rapidly and accurately searches a national database of fingerprints at the rate of three million prints per second,” Daily said. “Response time in matching fingerprints with those in the database is under two hours, compared with days or weeks that it took previously. Plus, the system is incredibly accurate. The false alarm rate is .004-four times better than the FBI requirement.”

That’s a huge help to crime fighters as the FBI processes more than 50,000 requests every day for law enforcement agencies around the country. Plus it’s easy to use. Agents only need PC-based workstations equipped with a fingerprint scanner and modem to capture images or personal identification information. Officials then transmit the data to a central database and results come back within a few hours.

The system also helped local law enforcement agencies capture the notorious snipers when they terrorized the D.C. area last fall. “We’re pretty proud of the fact that we had some small hand in that capture,” said Dailey. “In the future, I think you’ll see Lockheed Martin’s technological advancements reaching out and assisting many other industries.”

“For our corporation, the United States Government represents approximately 70 percent of our business, so it’s only natural that our Washington Operations are located here in Crystal City, collocated with our top customers. We look forward to growing our operations here and continuing as a good corporate citizen to Crystal City and the surrounding community,” Daily says enthusiastically.


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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.