The Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter, F-35 Lighting II in a hanger in Ottawa Friday July 16, 2010. The Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence announced that the government of Canada will buy 65 of these Joint Strike fighters and they are expected to be delivered in 2016.
Credits: ANDRE FORGET / QMI AGENCY
The Treasury Board re-tendered a contract offer this week for an auditing firm to go over updated "acquisition and sustainment project assumptions" for the plane.
Under the new tender, the contract would last until Jan. 31, 2013, but a spokeswoman for Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose won't say if that means the government won't meet its already delayed goal of tabling new cost estimates in the fall.
"They're doing everything they can to get it done right and in a timely manner," said Amber Irwin on Friday.
Irwin says the contract was re-tendered to allow accounting firms to sub-contract work, which wasn't allowed in the original call for proposals issues in June.
The push for more solid F-35 cost numbers comes in response to Auditor General Michael Ferguson's report in April that concluded bureaucrats and the government had underestimated costs.
Since April, the Conservatives have appointed a former auditor general, Denis Desautels, to the new secretariat who has taken over the program to replace Canada's old CF-18 fighters.
Meantime, the F-35 has hit a new testing milestone.
A pilot flying a short takeoff and vertical landing version of the plane - slightly different than the model Canada would buy - successfully dropped an inert bomb on Wednesday over the Atlantic Ocean.
American military officials call that "a significant entry into a new phase of testing for the F-35 program."
- with files from Reuters