OTTAWA, June 10 An independent panel of experts
is expected on Thursday to endorse the Canadian government's
process on whether or not to replace old military aircraft with
F-35 stealth fighters but not make a final decision, two sources
familiar with the situation said.
The old fleet of CF-18s, which came into service in the
1980s, could be replaced by F-35s made by Lockheed Martin Corp
, or an open competition could be held. A decision on
which way to go could come next week.
To hold an open competition would require the military to
rewrite the statement of what they require in an airplane.
The military, endorsed by the government, had originally
said it required the advanced capabilities that the F-35 had,
and this effectively ruled out other competitors and led to a
decision to buy 65 F-35s for C$9 billion ($8.3 billion).
The government scotched that decision in 2012 after its
auditor general determined that it had been based on bad data
from officials who had grossly downplayed the risks and the
costs not just of buying the planes but also operating them.
The panel consists of three retired civil servants and a
university professor who had been a vocal critic of the original
F-35 purchase plan.
The three competitors are:
- The F-18E/F Super Hornet, made by Boeing Co. It is
a proven aircraft used heavily by the United States, but
production may stop soon. Boeing says the United States and
Australia will still be flying them for decades and Boeing will
still service them.
- The Rafale, made by Dassault Aviation SA. France
has used it in or over Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. No country
outside of France has bought the plane, but Dassault hopes to
sign to sell them to India this year.
- The Eurofighter Typhoon, built by BAE Systems Plc
, Airbus Group NV and Italy's Finmeccanica SpA
. More than 400 have been delivered to a number of
(Reporting by Randall Palmer in Ottawa and Andrea Shalal in
Washington; Editing by Grant McCool)