POLITICS
04/03/2012 04:00 EDT | Updated 06/02/2012 05:12 EDT

Auditor general weighs in on troubled F-35 stealth fighter program

OTTAWA - National Defence and Public Works face a day of reckoning today as the auditor general releases a much anticipated report on the troubled F-35 stealth fighter program.

A draft copy of Auditor General Michael Ferguson's report has been making the rounds in Ottawa for weeks.

Sources say it criticizes the government for not doing its pricing homework and failing to follow procurement rules in the largest ever military hardware purchase.

The Canadian Forces wants to buy 65 stealth fighters to replace the aging fleet of CF-18 jet fighters.

The Conservative government says it will pay US$75 million per aircraft when it starts buying them in 2016, which some critics say is too low by half.

The U.S. and Britain signed contracts for the delivery of early-production aircraft at between US$140 million and US$145 million each, but Canadian officials have long insisted that the price will drop as the assembly line ramps up.