The request for proposals (RFP) for the selection of an advanced trainer for the Israeli air force will be issued later than expected, with the slip having raising speculation about a possible delay to the programme.

The two final contenders for the requirement are the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 and Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50.

The RFP was supposed to have been issued last month. Sources said on 19 September that the delay is "of a few weeks", but added that a bigger delay may follow.

This could be a result of pressure to shrink Israel's defence budget and allocate money to solve social issues, the sources said.

They added that when "a line in the budget book is found", the RFP will be issued by TOR - the joint venture company formed by Israeli firms Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries.

TOR plans to purchase the selected trainer and sell flight hours to the air force.

Source: Flight International