BEN RICH, who led the development of the F-117 stealth fighter, as chief of Lockheed's "Skunk Works", died on 5 January, aged 69, after a lengthy illness. Rich joined Lockheed in 1950 and participated in the design of the F-104, U-2, YF-12 and SR-71.

He was named senior engineer for Lockheed's advanced programmes in 1963 and in 1972 became vice-president for fighter programmes and preliminary design. Rich became vice-president and general manager of the Burbank, California-based Skunk Works, later renamed Lockheed Advanced Development, remaining there until retiring in 1991.

Rich and the Lockheed/US Air Force team won the 1989 Collier Trophy for production and deployment of the F-117 and, in 1994, he received the US Department of Defense's highest civilian award, the Distinguished Service Medal.

Source: Flight International