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Canada seeks new search-and-rescue planes

March 21, 2012 at 4:43 PM

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, March 21 (UPI) -- Canada's Cabinet is expected to approve opening a project office to buy new fixed-wing search-and-rescue planes for the Canadian air force.

The $3.1 billion replacement plan, designed to replace air force C-115 Buffalos and older model C-130-H fixed-wing transport aircraft, has been delayed by controversy and bureaucratic infighting for nearly a decade.

Potential bidders were recently informed that a formal tender isn't expected until 2013, CBC News Nova Scotia reported.

Adding to the program's delays have been accusations that the air force had tilted the specifics of the acquisition program in favor of the C-27-J Spartan, built by the Italian company Alenia.

Should the Canadian air force want to procure C-27-J Spartans, a possible second-hand source could appear close by, as the U.S. Air Force recently announced that it intended to sell its Spartan transports, both existing and those scheduled for delivery.

The sale would be part of the recently announced U.S. Department of Defense budget cuts, but the C-27-J Spartan sale would need congressional approval.

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