Canada revamps military procurement policy after controversies

Wed Feb 5, 2014 12:39pm EST
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will change the way it buys military equipment, the government said Wednesday, as it tries to provide more benefits to local companies and include safeguards to avoid fiascos such as its aborted plan to buy F-35 fighter jets.

"It's no secret that businesses in Canada have been telling us that defense procurement needs to be fixed," Public Works Diane Finley said in a speech to representatives of the defense industry.

"What we found was that requirements are too complex. Too often they appear to be set to achieve predetermined outcomes, and industry is not engaged early enough."

The Conservative government is smarting from criticism over its decision, since put on ice, to buy Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 stealth fighters without allowing an open competition for fighter jets to replace Canada's aging fleet of F-18s.

The government also scrapped a plan to buy military trucks in July 2012 just minutes before the final deadline for applications.

Under the new procurement strategy, a group of ministers from different departments will oversee acquisitions, and an independent third party will review the requirements that the military sets out for major purchases.

A central criticism of the F-35 process was that the defense department essentially said it needed a fifth-generation fighter like the F-35 with its advanced capability to avoid detection.

This effectively ruled out other planes, whereas an independent reviewer might have questioned whether the F-35 was the only aircraft that could meet Canada's needs.   Continued...

Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 fighter jets do a fly-by before the start of the Edmonton Indy in Edmonton, Alberta, July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Todd Korol