Skunk Works

by wjw on July 26, 2006

Lockheed’s legendary Skunk Works, which created such aircraft as the U-2, the SR-71, and the F-117 Stealth Fighter, has created yet another masterpiece.

According to this article in New Scientist Tech, Lockheed-Martin’s new unmanned stealth vehicle Polecat was created largely with a CAD hooked up to a 3D printer— aka “3D rapid prototyping.”

Nice hack! And I especially like how “polecat” is just another word for “skunk.”

Another thing I especially like is that this is exactly how the planes and missiles were made in Hardwired.

I have to wonder how much of this technology is replicable. Will your average tinpot Third World dictator be able to create and assemble state-of-the-art stealth aircraft in his garage? Will you? Will Osama?

Backyard aerospace! Only the latest example of why we are living in a science fiction world.

Jose July 28, 2006 at 5:22 pm

It’s only a matter of time methinks before this kind of technology filters down. The days of assymetrical warfare may very well be numbered.

Funny that you should mention Hardwired, that’s the book that switched me on to you back in the day.

P.S. I’m a contributor to Meme Therapy ( if you’re game I’d love to interview you for the site.


Coherent July 28, 2006 at 9:15 pm

Computer aided construction will filter down, and soon. It’s like precision machining itself. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, high-priced professional tools only. In the 1990’s and 2000’s, kid’s toys. Right now this kind of automated machining is being used for one-off special items from skunk works, but in 10-20 years it will be in your basement. It just takes a while for roboticisation and industrial automation to saturate the economy.

dubjay July 28, 2006 at 10:32 pm

I have to say that I adore the idea of backyard aerospace.

Though I’m not too wild about the notion that Osama will probably get this tech before I do.

Jose, I’m happy to do an interview. Any old time, pretty much.

Anonymous December 21, 2006 at 10:59 am

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