Canada gives bidders more time to submit fighter jet bids, cites coronavirus

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is giving potential bidders another month to submit proposals for a multibillion-dollar contract to supply 88 new fighter jets, time needed due to complications caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The move is the latest delay in a protracted trouble-plagued process to replace the country’s CF-18 fleet of jets, some of which have been flying for 40 years. In February, Ottawa granted a three-month extension to June 30. [L1N2AP0UJ]

In a statement issued late on Wednesday, the procurement ministry said firms now had until July 31.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting numerous challenges for businesses and their workforce ...the unprecedented situation has impacted proposal finalization,” it said.

Last July, Ottawa launched the competition for a contract worth between C$15 billion ($10.7 billion) and C$19 billion.

The main contenders are Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N and Boeing Corp BA.N, while Sweden's Saab AB SAABb.ST is also participating.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio