Lockheed Martin [LMT] said on March 14 that it has named John Clark as the new vice president and general manager of the company’s Skunk Works’ classified development arm.

Clark is a 23-year veteran of Lockheed Martin, where his posts have included the vice president of engineering and technology and the vice president at Skunk Works for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft systems.

Clark assumes the reins at an important time for Skunk Works, as U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has said that the service is embarking upon a classifed effort to field combat drones

quarterbacked by the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) manned fighter and possibly other manned fighters, including the Lockheed Martin F-35 and F-22, by 2030 or earlier (Defense Daily, Feb. 7).

On April 4, Clark will succeed Jeff Babione as the leader of Skunk Works. Babione, who has had a nearly three decade run at Lockheed Martin where he helped develop the F-22 and F-35, is to retire at the end of March.

Last summer, Lockheed Martin said that it had completed construction on a new 215,000 square foot advanced manufacturing facility at its Skunk Works headquarters in Palmdale, Calif. (Defense Daily, Aug. 13, 2021). The new facility includes an intelligent factory framework, a technology-enabled advance manufacturing environment, and flexible factory construct to quickly adapt to customers’ needs.

Lockheed Martin has said that 85 percent of its Skunk Works operation is classified.