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Auditor: Canada bungled F-35 procurement

April 3, 2012 at 4:27 PM

OTTAWA, April 3 (UPI) -- The Canadian government bungled the procurement process and cost reporting of acquiring F-35 fighter jets, the federal auditor said Tuesday in Ottawa.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson's report soundly condemned the acquisition process and cost forecasting by the Conservative government in its bid to purchase 65 of the aircraft, saying it was "inefficient and not managed well," the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

"Key decisions were made without required approvals or supporting documentation," the auditor said.

The report said as far back as 2006, the Canadian government was showing interest in the F-35 and there was no evidence the Department of Defense sought out tenders for an alternative to the Lockheed Martin model, the report said.

In July 2010, Conservative Defense Minister Peter MacKay announced Canada would purchase the fighters as part of the international Joint Strike Fighter program, led by the United States. He said the project would cost $25 billion over 20 years.

"Practically speaking, by 2010, Canada was too involved in the JSF program and the F-35 to run a fair competition," the auditor said.

Within hours, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose issued a statement in response, Postmedia News reported.

"Funding will remain frozen and Canada will not purchase new aircraft until further due diligence, oversight and transparency is applied to the process of replacing the Canadian Forces' aging CF-18 fleet," Ambrose said.

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