Lockheed Martin plans to dramatically reduce through-life operating and sustainment costs of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) combat aircraft through, what it calls, its '25 by 25' initiative.
Geared at reducing the F-35's costs to USD25,000 per flight hour by 2025, this '25 by 25' initiative is a company-launched effort that aims to mirror the success that Lockheed Martin has had in its goal of bringing the aircraft's procurement costs down to below USD80 million (for the F-35A-model) by 2020.
"Over the last three years we have already seen a 15% reduction in the cost per flight hour of the F-35, and through discrete actions - management of the supply chain and logistical footprint, for example - we aim to get the current USD35,000 per flight hour down to USD25,000 by 2025," Greg Ulmer, vice-president and general manager, F-35 programme, said at the Paris Air Show on 17 June. As noted by Ulmer, about 40% of the F-35's operating costs are owned by Lockheed Martin, with the remainder being the responsibility of the operator.
With Lockheed Martin actually tracking ahead of its 2020 goal for a USD80 million-unit price - this target is now set to be achieved with Lot 13 of low-rate initial production (LRIP) later this year - the '25 by 25' initiative should help solve the aircraft's very high operating costs, which are seen as an Achilles' heel for the F-35 in the international market place.
Responding to suggestions that this operating cost reduction goal might be too ambitious for the programme, Ulmer noted, "Many said we couldn't get to an USD80 million aircraft, but we did it. We haven't committed to something that we don't think we can achieve."
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