WASHINGTON — Boeing’s advanced technology division, known as Phantom Works, is getting new leadership from Aurora Flight Sciences, the innovative maker of drones and automation tech that Boeing plans to buy.
Mark Cherry, currently Aurora’s president and chief operating officer, will take the reins of Phantom Works from Darryl Davis, who ran the group for 10 years and recently moved into a “company-wide program management role,” Boeing announced Tuesday .
“Mark will accelerate efforts to integrate advanced technologies and processes into solutions that our customers want and that can grow our business,” Leanne Caret, Boeing’s president and CEO of its defense, space and security division, said in a statement.
As head of Phantom Works, Cherry will likely oversee a number of key efforts — perhaps most crucially, the technologies that will drive Boeing’s bids for the Air Force’s and Navy’s next fighter aircraft — but also developments in areas such as hypersonics and unmanned aircraft.
Before joining Aurora in 2012, Cherry held positions at other defense and aerospace firms including 20 years of experience at Sikorsky Aircraft. He is also an Air Force veteran, where he worked a stint at the A-10 program office, and is a graduate of both the Air Force Academy and Stanford University.
Boeing announced its acquisition of Aurora earlier this month, prompting analysts to hypothesize whether the buy would give Boeing — especially Phantom Works — a much needed shot in the arm after losing high profile combat aircraft contests like the long range strike bomber and joint strike fighter.
Although executives from both companies said then that Aurora would operate as an independent subsidiary of Boeing, Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group, told Defense News that the acquisition would give Boeing a new pool of talent to recruit from.
Aboulafia also hypothesized that Phantom Works could pull in design and prototyping capability from Aurora, which had become known for developing innovative experimental aircraft since it was formed in 1989.
“By owning a property like Aurora, you have both design teams and facilities that can innovate and build complex new systems,” whereas Phantom Works had typically focused on virtually building and testing designs on a more conceptual level more than some of its competitors like Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, he said.
Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.