The Israel Air Force (IAF) procurement plans for the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fifth-generation joint strike fighter (JSF) may be postponed again due to development delays.

US Air Force (USAF) officials have notified the Pentagon that the aircraft may not attain operational capability until 2018, which may affect the delivery scheduled initially for 2016.

Israel, however, hopes that delivery will occur as scheduled and has requested Pentagon approval for IAF pilot training to begin in 2016.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel had placed a $2.75bn contract for the purchase of 20 F-35s last year to replace its aging F-15 and F-16 aircraft and boost its deterrence in the Middle East.