Canada opposition NDP says would keep F-35 in race for new jets

Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:44am EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's opposition New Democrats on Monday defended Lockheed Martin Corp's right to try to sell Ottawa new fighter jets after a rival said he would not buy the company's F-35 plane if he won the Oct. 19 election.

Canada's tortuous and controversial effort to replace its aging CF-18 fighters has run into repeated problems and is now part of a tight election race between the ruling Conservatives and the New Democrats and Liberals, both on the center-left.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair made his comments backing the U.S. company one day after Justin Trudeau of the Liberals said he would not buy the F-35 jet, which has been hit by cost overruns.

"When he says things like that, he's just showing his total lack of experience. That's not the way these things work," Mulcair told reporters.

"How can he decide the result in advance without a process?"

Mulcair said an NDP government would define quickly what was needed and start a competition to buy new jets rapidly.

The Conservatives announced an agreement in principle in 2010 to buy 65 F-35 jets, but abandoned the plan in 2012 after a probe found officials had deliberately downplayed the costs and risks of the deal.

Ottawa set up a new process, but it is well behind schedule. The four contenders are the F-35, Boeing Co's F-18 E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Aviation SA's Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon - jointly made by BAE Systems PLC, Finmeccanica SpA and Airbus Group.   Continued...

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair makes a point during the Globe and Mail Leaders Debate in Calgary, Alberta September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Sturk