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Sweden's Saab undecided on whether to bid on Canada's fighter-jet contract

The new E version of the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen multi role fighter being rolled out at SAAB in Linkoping, Sweden, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Swedish fighter-jet maker Saab says it has not decided whether it will participate in the $19-billion competition to replace the Canada's aging fleet of CF-18s. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Anders Wiklund/TT SWEDEN OUT

OTTAWA — Swedish fighter-jet maker Saab says it has not decided whether it will participate in the $19-billion competition to replace Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18s.

Saab’s Gripen fighter is the only non-U.S. plane still in possible contention after fellow European firm Airbus Defence and Space pulled its Eurofighter Typhoon from the race last week.

Airbus blamed the cost that non-North American companies must bear to ensure their planes meet a specific security requirement, which French firm Dassault had also cited when it withdrew its Rafale fighter from the competition last year.

Airbus also took issue with the Canadian government’s decision to ease a policy that required bidders to legally commit to investing in Canada following a U.S. complaint that the policy violated Canada’s agreement as a partner in developing the F-35 stealth fighter.

Saab Canada president Simon Carroll tells The Canadian Press his company is very interested in entering the Gripen into the Canadian fighter-jet competition but is still reviewing the security requirement, among others, before making a decision.

Boeing’s Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 are the other two fighters beside the Gripen still in contention in the high-stakes competition, which officially kicked off in July.

The Canadian Press