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Canadian minister avoids F-35 questions

Nov. 20, 2012 at 3:30 PM

OTTAWA, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Canada's proposed purchase of U.S.-built Lockheed F-35 Lightnings is raising questions in Ottawa.

Since 2010 the F-35 purchase has unsettled the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Critics allege that the aircraft have the inside track on purchase, even has Harper's government insists that the bidding for replacing the country's CF-18 fighter fleet is still open.

Canadian Minister of Defense Peter MacKay insisted Canada's armed forces are considering all options.

"Clearly everyone understands that equipment requires replacement at some point. (New fighters are needed) just as new ships are needed," he said on CTV's Question Period.

McKay made his observations shortly after Canadian air force head Staff Lt. Gen. Yvan Blondin claimed his department was never told to study other aircraft than the F-35 to replace the country's CF-18 jet aircraft, a statement that the Department of National Defense subsequently refuted.

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