The Canadian government is consulting industry representatives on a replacement for its CF-18 fighters, as the new Liberal administration steps away from the controversial Lockheed Martin F-35 programme.

Canada will kick off talks with industry and government officials at the Farnborough Airshow on 11 July, Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan says in a news release. Throughout the summer, the government also will gather information on acquisition costs, lifecycle costs, maintenance, delivery times and interoperablity with North American Aerospace Defense Command, the release states.

As of two years ago, a total of 33 Canadian companies had secured contracts for the F-35 programme valued at C$637 million ($490 million), according to the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada agency.

The acquisition programme for the CF-18 has become a controversy in Canada. In 2009, the conservative administration under Prime Minister Stephen Harper selected the F-35A to replace the CF-18. But during Canada’s 2015 election, the liberal party led by Justin Trudeau promised to axe the 65 Lockheed F-35As and launch an open competition.

The recent press release and past overtures from Sajjan indicate that Canadian participation in the replacement programme will play a significant role in the selection process.