Since the events of September 11, national defense has been on the minds of many Americans. Lockheed Martin, a multinational aerospace and defense manufacturer based out of Bethesda, Maryland, is assisting our armed forces by providing them with state-of-the-art technology, aircraft, missiles and other necessities.
Lockheed Martin was founded in 1995 with the merger between Lockheed and Martin Marietta but had a long history well before then. Lockheed Corporation, originally Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company and then Lougheed Aircraft Manufacturing Company, was founded 1912 during the first-flight boom in the early 1900s. Lockheed brought more than 80 years of aviation experience to the company with the new merger. Martin Marietta, originally Martin Company, also founded in 1912, was a large contributor to aviation, especially in the first and second World War; however, it later became known for much more after its merger with American-Marietta Corporation in 1961 making it a leader in not only aircraft but also aggregates, cement, chemicals, and electronics. This mix of technology and capabilities has made Lockheed Martin a multifaceted company specializing in aviation but with products ranging from space technology and aeronautics to information systems and global services to electronics, making it a leader in the global defense industry.
Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics unit is stationed out of Fort Worth, Texas, with facilities in Georgia, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and yes, Mississippi. The Meridian, Mississippi facility, brought into the company through the Lockheed Corporation, is currently a major contributor to two of the company’s largest aircraft projects, the F-22 Raptor fighter jet and the C-130 Hercules J series transport aircraft.
When the facility was opened in August of 1969, the company’s product dynamics was much different than what is found there today. Lockheed Corporation, while very active in private military projects, was also manufacturing commercial aircraft. The Meridian facility was opened to build components for the L-1011 wide-body civilian airliner and eventually took on the Lockheed JetStar business jet. As demand for military contracts escalated, the Meridian facility took on more military projects for reconnaissance and patrol aircraft (P-3 Orion) and military transport vessels (C-5 Galaxy and C-141 Starlifter).
Presently, workers at the Meridian facility produce vertical tail components for the F-22 Raptor, which is the only 5th-Generation fighter currently in service. More than 155 F-22s are currently in service with a dozen or more currently in production. The F-22 is contracted solely for the U.S. Air Force. The C-130, which the Meridian facility is responsible for more than 50 percent of the fuselage production for the Marietta, Georgia assembly plant, has been in service for more than 60 years and is currently in the J-series. The C-130 is capable of takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways, making it optimal for emergency situations and mass transportation. However, since its inaugural flight, it also has been utilized in many capacities such as airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, aerial refueling, maritime patrol and aerial firefighting. It was even adopted by the Department of Defense for weather research and is used by the “Hurricane Hunters,” tracking and measuring the magnitude of imminent storms threatening the U.S.; the entire Hurricane Hunters’ fleet of C-130Js can be found at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. This versatile aircraft is contracted to every branch of the U.S. Military.
It takes a lot of man-power to get these planes in the sky. Lockheed Martin employs more than 146,000 employees worldwide. The Meridian facility employs more than 220 workers, up almost 60 percent over 2008 with the increase in demand with renewed military contracts, exceeding a payroll of $9 million. Six of the current employees have been with Lockheed since the facility opened 40 years ago.
The facility not only contributes to the community by providing jobs but also is a devoted partner to many philanthropic organizations including Relay for Life, Diabetes Foundation, March of Dimes and the United Way. Lockheed Martin makes contributing from employees easy with an optional automatic deduction/contribution from payroll; more than 78 percent of employees utilize this service making it a pace-setter for the United Way organization.
Lockheed Martin also works in education. School children are invited to the facility for a plant tour to enhance programming such as “Engineering Week” and “Space Day.” Employees will also visit schools and offer lectures on the advancements of such technology and how it affects space programs and the current aeronautics market. Lockheed Martin also contributes to the Meridian Community College and Mississippi State University through cooperative opportunities at many of its locations nationwide and with scholarships to encourage study in engineering and science. It was also involved in the pilot program headed by the Workforce Development Center in East Mississippi to develop a training program for workers hoping to enter the workforce with Lockheed Martin; to date, Lockheed Martin has a 100 percent retention rate for each of the employees hired through this cooperative program.
For more information on the Lockheed Martin Company, please visit www.lockheedmartin.com