Wednesday, November 2, 2011

>Defence Watch Auditor General Looking at F-35 Program

Lee Berthiaume of Postmedia News has the latest on the AG’s interest in the F-35:

OTTAWA — Staff from the federal auditor general’s office travelled to Texas in September to review progress on the F-35 stealth fighter program for a report that will be released next spring, Postmedia News has learned.
The news comes as Australia prepares to ask Canada and other allies to perform a joint study of the program’s delays, and amid concerns from the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester over the speed with which the project is being pushed through safety checks.
Officials within the auditor general’s office and Lockheed Martin, the company leading the multi-billion-dollar F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, confirmed the Canadian visit to Fort Worth, but would not say much else.
“We do site visits during the normal course of our audits,” said Celine Bissonnette, a spokeswoman at the Office of the Auditor General.
“We are planning a report in the spring of 2012, tentatively titled, ‘Replacing Canada’s Fighter Jets.’ However, we regret that we are not able to comment any further on audits in progress until our report has been tabled in the House of Commons.”
Bissonnette said the audit’s terms of reference, which outline exactly what is being investigated, will be revealed about a month before the final report is made public.
Lockheed Martin spokesperson Kim Testa said the Canadian officials were conducting an “assessment of program progress.”
“Lockheed Martin’s responsibility as the prime contractor for the F-35 Lightning II program is to maintain open, transparent and regular contact with all F-35 partner government and military stakeholders, to ensure updated and accurate program information is shared and discussed,” she said.