The US expects no near-term sales in the Gulf region for the F-35 warplane, saying current fourth-generation military aircraft with new upgrades are capable of handling the threats the region faces, the Pentagon said on Sunday.
The US military said it had grounded the entire fleet of 97 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets until completion of additional inspections of the warplane's single engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.
Turkey, which said in February it intended to buy 100 of Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jets, will buy only two this year, and will decide each following year how many planes it will order, Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz told Reuters.
The cost of developing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter rose 4.3 percent to $395.7 billion last year and the plane will not reach full-rate production until 2019, the Pentagon said.
The new schedule is two years later than planned.
The US Defense Department has suspended fleetwide ground and flight test operations of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, its costliest arms purchase.
The department acted after the failure on Tuesday of one aircraf
The US has offered to add Israeli systems and munitions to a new US-built fighter jet and deliver it to Israel by 2015, provided a deal is sealed in coming months.
Lockheed Martin Corp, maker of the radar-evading F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,