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Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to employees, at Virtek Vision International Inc. in Waterloo Ontario March 11, 2011. Prime Minister Harper toured the high tech facility, which deals with lasers and manufacturing the materials used in the new F35 fighter jet, Canada's military is awaiting.

FRED THORNHILL/REUTERS

Five months after it promised to conduct an independent review of controversial cost projections for F-35 fighter jets, the Harper government has finally hired accounting firm KPMG to do the job.

The Conservatives say they'll release the findings sometime this fall during an annual National Defence update to Parliament.

The Harper government, which has sold itself as competent stewards of public money, was heavily embarrassed this spring when Auditor General said the government had lowballed the full cost of buying costly F-35 Lightning fighter jets.

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The total bill, he concluded, was $25-billion rather than $16-billion.

KPMG's job will include:

  • Reviewing the National Defence acquisition and sustainment project assumptions for replacing Canada's aging CF-18 jets.
  • Developing a framework to assess the life-cycle cost estimate of a fleet of 65 F-35 fighters throughout its expected operational life.
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