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Canada rejigs F-35 procurement system

April 5, 2012 at 11:44 AM
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OTTAWA, April 5 (UPI) -- Canada's red-faced Conservative government is restarting its procurement process for U.S.-built F-35 fighter jets, the Globe and Mail said Thursday.

A highly critical report by the federal auditor general this week on how the Department of National Defense apparently ruled out any other fighter jets in the multi-billion-dollar project led to a political about-face, the newspaper said.

"We're pressing the reset button," an unidentified senior government official told the Globe.

A reassessment of the fighter program is being established, this time with the Public Works and Government Services department in charge instead of defense, Defense Minister Peter MacKay told Parliament Wednesday.

The jet purchase is Canada's largest-ever military acquisition and would involve 65 fighters to replace its aging fleet of CF-18 aircraft.

The auditor's report said proper tender processes hadn't been followed since 2006 based on advice from defense officials who all evidently favored a contract with Lockheed-Martin, the newspaper said.

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