Canada Liberal leader Trudeau says would scrap F-35 program

Sun Sep 20, 2015 12:26pm EDT
 
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TORONTO, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Canadian Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said on Sunday his party would scrap a program to buy advanced F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin Corp if it wins power in the Oct. 19 federal election.

The party said in a statement it would launch an open and transparent competition to replace Canada's aging CF-18 fighter jets. It said a Liberal government will not purchase the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber.

"Our (military) commitments will, among other things, ensure that the Royal Canadian Navy is able to operate as a blue water fleet well into the future," Trudeau said in a statement.

"By choosing to replace the existing CF-18s with a more affordable aircraft than the F-35s, we will be able to guarantee the delivery of current procurements for the navy."

Canada's ruling Conservatives announced a deal in 2010 to buy 65 advanced F-35 jets, but abandoned the plan in 2012 after a probe found officials had deliberately downplayed the costs and risks of the deal.

The right-leaning Conservatives, who have ruled the country for nearly a decade, are in a tight three-way race with the center-left Liberals and New Democratic Party. (Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson)