Canada looks for F-35 alternatives
OTTAWA - Reuters
Production of the F-35 has been hit by cost overruns and delays. At $396 billion, it is the costliest program in Pentagon procurement history. REUTERS photoCanada scrapped a controversial sole-source plan to buy F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin Corp., saying it will now evaluate all available options for acquiring new fighters.
The announcement on Dec. 12 is another challenge for the F-35, which has been hit by cost overruns and delays and at $396 billion is the costliest program in Pentagon procurement history. Canada’s Conservative government, stressing it could still buy the F-35 if it turns out to be the best option, will set up an independent panel to look at replacements for an aging fleet of CF-18 fighters, which are due to go out of service by 2020.
“We are pressing the reset button on this acquisition in order to ensure a balance between military needs and taxpayer interests,” Defense Minister Peter MacKay told reporters.
The move marks the government’s most far-reaching attempt yet to put an end to a scandal that has grown steadily since the Conservatives announced in July 2010 they would buy 65 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for $9 billion without holding an open competition.
Super Hornet and Eurofighter
Ottawa said it would give the new independent panel a series of detailed guidelines to help it evaluate the contenders. Government sources said the main contenders for the Canadian fighter-jet order now are the F-35, Boeing Co’s F-18 Super Hornet and the EADS Eurofighter.