Lockheed Martin says there is a path to achieve the Defense Department’s $25,000 flight hour stretch goal for the F-35A by 2025, although Pentagon officials disagree.

“We’ve reduced the Lockheed Martin-portion of F-35 [cost per flight hour] by about 15% since 2015,” according to a statement sent to Aerospace DAILY. “Lockheed Martin represents less than half of total [operations and sustainment] costs, and we are partnering with our customers to further reduce costs across the enterprise to meet these joint goals.”

The company has reduced the F-35 unit price by more than 60% since the initial lot and is tracking to achieve its $80 million F-35A target by 2020, which is a goal many considered unachievable, the statement reads.

“Just as we’ve demonstrated in production, we are applying the same rigor and innovation to reduce sustainment costs to achieve our goals,” the statement reads.

The Pentagon is conducting numerous studies on F-35 flight hour cost, and there is no path to get to $25,000 by fiscal 2025. Currently, the F-35A cost per flight hour is $44,000, Bob Daigle, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) director, told the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee May 2.

“That’s a target, and it’s not our projection of where we’re actually going to be,” Daigle said.

The F-35 enterprise highlights flight-hour cost targets in its lifecycle sustainability plan (LSP) that was approved in January. The LSP has eight lines of effort that assess cost per flying hour, cost per tail per year and overall ownership cost, Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 program executive officer, told reporters May 2 after the subcommittee hearing.

“All of those levers that are in the LSP give us the confidence that we can go from $44,000 a flight hour to $34,000 a flight hour in 2024,” Winter said.

The LSP has the $25,000 flight hour stretch goal by 2025 in the document. “That will be very, very hard to meet but it’s FY ‘19 right now and we have a number of years,” he said.

On average the cost per flight hour for the F-35 must be reduced by 7-12% each year. “The 25 by 25 wasn’t generated by the program office nor the CAPE. It was stretch goal given to us by our leadership,” Winter said.