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Conservatives demand clarity, timelines on next steps for fighter jets

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are demanding the Liberal government provide more clarity on the next steps in Canada’s search for a new fighter jet, including when a replacement for the military’s aging CF-18s will be announced.

The government announced this week that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter and the Sweden’s Saab Gripen are the only two planes still in contention for the $19-billion contract to supply Canada with 88 new fighters.

The announcement confirmed an earlier report by The Canadian Press that Boeing’s Super Hornet had been tossed out of the competition.

Public Services and Procurement Canada says it is now weighing whether to launch final contract negotiations with the front-runner, which the government hasn’t identified, or have Lockheed Martin and Saab revise their bids before the start of final negotiations.

Conservative defence critic Kerry-Lynne Findlay says the fact the government doesn’t know what it will do is a concern, particularly given how long the search for a new fighter has taken.

Rather than reopening the bids, she wants the government to avoid any further delays and set a firm timeline for when a winner will be selected.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2021.