Lockheed Martin Corporation was formed in 1995 by the merger of Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta. The company is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and is the No. 1 U.S. defense contractor by revenue and market cap. It is the world’s third-largest aerospace company, with 75% of its business in the defense market. Ten percent of Pentagon spending goes to Lockheed Martin, and 50% of its annual revenue comes from the Department of Defense. In 2020, it was the No. 1 recipient of Pentagon spending, at $72.9 billion, more than three times the money spent on the No. 2 U.S. defense player and more than all spent on the second through fourth positions.
Lockheed Martin Corporation’s roots date back to the Loughead (pronounced Lockheed) Aircraft Manufacturing Company, founded by the Loughead brothers in 1912. By 1920, the first venture had gone bankrupt due to a decline in post-WWI demand, but it restarted in 1926. Investors, including John Northrop of Northrop Grumman Corporation, raised the money to start the Lockheed Aircraft Manufacturing Company. They used technology developed from 1912 to 1920 to produce the Vega, a cutting-edge passenger plane that could seat up to seven passengers.
By 1928, the company made about five planes a week and brought in more than $1 million per year. The Depression cut the bottom out of the aircraft market, and the company fell on hard times. By this point, the founders were out of the business and failed to make a bid to repurchase the company when it fell into receivership. Among the many early successes were the Vega and the Model 10 Electra, both flown by Amelia Earhart, the latter to her end.
The new Lockheed Aircraft Corporation expanded its aircraft lines into World War II, including plans for potential defense aircraft. This planning had the company in an excellent position to win defense contracts when the U.S. entered World War II and helped launch it to its current status. It was also when the company launched the advanced development projects, which came to be called Skunk Works. Skunk Works is responsible for many advances in military technology, including the first kill recorded in jet-to-jet combat. Cold War advances include the C-130, the Polaris Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile System and the iconic SR-71 Blackbird.
Martin Marietta was formed in 1961 by the merger of Glenn L. Martin Company and American Marietta Corporation. The company was an aerospace-focused manufacturer specializing in missiles and missile systems. Projects accredited to it include the Titan and Pershing Missile Systems and the MGM-51 Shillelagh Anti-Tank Guided Missile System.
Today, Lockheed Martin Corporation operates as a security and aerospace company worldwide. It researches, designs, develops and manufactures defense and security systems for government and private use. The company operates in four segments: aeronautics, missiles and fire control, rotary and mission systems and space. The company’s other projects include health, renewable energy, energy distribution and nuclear fusion research and development.