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Canada may cancel F-35 purchase

03-14-2012 15:24 BJT

OTTAWA, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Canada may withdraw its purchase of F-35 joint strike fighter jets, Associate Defense Minister Julian Fantino said Tuesday.

"We have not as yet discounted the possibility of backing out of the program," Fantino told the House of Commons Defense Committee.

Eight more countries, including the United States, Britain, Australia, and Italy, which planned to purchase the Lockheed Martin-made jet, were also reconsidering their plans because of escalating costs. However, none of the nine countries has canceled its order yet.

Fantino, who has consistently defended the purchase of 65 new F-35 jets to replace Canada's aging fleet of CF-18 twin-engine fighters, added that Canada has not yet abandoned the F-35.

"The determinate decision has not yet been made about whether we're going to purchase, buy, acquire the F-35," Fantino said.

"One of the things that I know for certain is that Canada remains involved in the joint strike fighter program."

He also reminded the committee members that the government would not sign a contract until it knew how much the F-35 would cost.

Fantino said the government hoped the cost of the planes and their service could decline to 9 billion Canadian dollars (8.9 billion U.S. dollars).

"We will be expending the allotted amount, 9 billion dollars, for the acquisition if we are going to go there," he said.

"That decision will be made if and when those factors are known to us, and the decision will be made as to whether or not Canada will actually enter into a contract to purchase the F-35," he said.

Fantino, who is responsible for purchasing military equipment, hosted a meeting of the partner countries in Washington D.C. earlier this month to discuss the problems that have plagued the purchase of the aircraft.

Interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae said the government should open a new competition to replace Canada's aging CF-18 jets.

"Inevitably, they'll have to find a new model, because the F-35 model doesn't work for Canada," Rae said, whose party was in power when Canada joined the F-35 research and development program.

Rae said Prime Minister Stephen Harper said months ago Canada had a firm contract with Lockheed Martin. However, "what Mr. Fantino is saying today is completely different: There is no contract, it's not a matter of when but if and when," Rae said.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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