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Canada debates F-35 purchase decision

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Lockheed Martin-built F-35 Lightening II fighter.

OTTAWA (BNS): A political debate has stirred up in Canada over the Government's decision to buy F-35 Lightening II aircraft worth $9 billion from the US.

Questioning the decision, opposition Liberal MPs have accused the Stephen Harper-led Government of “deliberately” choosing a deal without opting for a competitive bid, a media report said Thursday.

“It appears the Harper government may be deliberately choosing not to save money at a time when it is running the largest deficit in Canadian history,” Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh was quoted as saying by The Vancouver Sun newspaper.

According to the report, the MP has demanded that a comparative analysis of costs and benefits accrued by different countries while acquiring the fighter plane either by a competitive bidding process or by buying it through a sole-sourced contract should be made.

As per the Conservative Government’s decision, Canada will acquire 65 of the new fifth-generation fighters from US defence major Lockheed Martin at a cost of $9 billion which will “meet the threats of the 21st century,” according to the country's Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

The minister, while announcing the decision last week, had said that the planes were chosen as part of a US-led competitive and “rigorous process” in 2001.

Canada, which is partnering along with seven other countries led by the US, has invested $168 million in the Joint Strike Fighters development project.

The new fighters, expected to be delivered to Canada in 2016, are slated to replace the CF-18 Hornet fleet of fighters in the Canadian Air Force.

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