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Competitors anxious to know Harper government's verdict on F-35 program

OTTAWA - One of the would-be bidders to replace Canada's aging CF-18 jet fighter fleet says it's anxious to see whether the Harper government will hold a full-blown competition — or stick with the oft-maligned F-35.

It has been more than a year since the Conservatives rebooted the controversial program, launching a market analysis to explore other possible options.

Boeing Co. is one of several aircraft manufacturers asked to brief a panel of experts that has spent months examining the capabilities, limitations and cost of the various competitors.

Brian Beyrouty, the defence giant's senior manager of international partnerships, says his company answered the majority of the questions put to it last summer by the Public Works secretariat overseeing the program.

Boeing is interested in selling the Super Hornet, an updated, more robust version of the CF-18s, which Canada has flown since the 1980s.

Beyrouty said a few follow-up details were provided later in the fall, but since then the company has been waiting for the government's decision, which could come in the spring.

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