* Canada initially chose F-35 jets, then backtracked
* Canada says will spend C$9 billion on jets
* Canada talking to Lockheed, Boeing, three European firms
OTTAWA, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Canada is reaching out to five aircraft manufacturers to replace the country’s aging fleet of CF-18 jets, renewing an effort that has been drawn-out and troubled.
Canada announced in 2010 it would give a single source contract to Lockheed-Martin Corp for 65 F-35 jets but later reversed course as cost estimates soared.
Ottawa has set aside C$9 billion ($8.9 billion) to buy the new jets.
The public works ministry, confirming earlier leaks from senior government officials, said in a statement on Friday that Ottawa would talk to Lockheed Martin and four other companies:
- Boeing Co, which makes the F-18 Super Hornet
- EADS, which makes the Eurofighter
- Saab AB, which makes the Gripen
- Dassault Aviation, which makes the Rafale
The ministry said it would send a questionnaire to the five seeking detailed information on the technical capabilities of fighter aircraft in production or scheduled to be in production.
Once the companies have replied they will be sent another questionnaire seeking detailed cost estimates.
The government last year tore up its plan to buy the F-35s after a spending watchdog said officials had deliberately downplayed the costs and risks of doing so.
Ottawa says it could still eventually decide to buy the F-35, which has been hit by cost overruns and delays.
More details of the government’s plan to find new jets can be found at