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Liberals set to announce fighter jet competition, purchase of used Aussie jets next week

Liberals set to announce fighter jet competition, purchase of used Aussie jets next week
From CBC - December 7, 2017

The Liberal government intends to announce the "launch" of its long-awaited competition to replace the air force's aging CF-18s next weekat the same time it unveils a plan to buy used Australian jet fighters as stop-gap measure, CBC News has learned.

Multiple government and industry sources say what the public will see is the first step "in a long road" towardthe issuing of a formal tender in early 2019 and the eventual acquisition of brand new warplanes by the mid-2020s.

Significantly,from a political perspective,the government is considering ripping a page out of its recent warship-building playbook and establishing a list of pre-qualified bidders, said a source familiar with the file, but who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A final decision on whether to take that step has not been made, but it would potentially give the Liberals ongoing leverage in nasty trade disputes, like the one between Boeing and Bombardier.

Getting the full competition underway would please the commander of the air force, who, in a sit-down interview with CBC News on Wednesday, said the sooner it gets underway, the better.

"Can we do it faster? That would be the challenge I would give my colleagues across government," said Lt.-Gen. Mike Hood.

"I am ready to take it on faster, but I also recognize the government's process requirements for an open and transparent competition. They have stated it very publicly and I am supportive of their view to take that way. I just want it to go faster."

Sharing weapons technology

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan would not comment Wednesday on the specifics of what the government intends to do in the fighter jet competition, but knowing what the companies can deliver is paramount.

"We want to make sure during the competition that anybody who competes...can actually live up to to those requirements," Sajjan said, referring to the air force statement of requirements, which sets out expected missions and capabilities.

"These requirements are not only about having an aircraft for now, but we need to make sure this aircraft is there to serve us in the future."

Upgrading Aussie jets

'Bucket of bolts'

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