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Video wades into Lockheed-Boeing battle over Canadian jet orders

Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp's facto
Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp's facto

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new video is circulating on the Internet that pokes fun at Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet while lauding the F/A-18 built by rival Boeing Co , the latest salvo in an increasingly pitched battle over Canadian fighter orders.

In the video, two little boys compare what they were able to buy with the $10 they each got from their grandfather. One shows off his stealthy new F-35 fighter, while the other proudly reports that he was able to buy three F/A-18 plus 10 years' worth of logistics support for the same amount.

Tyler Brand, vice president of business development for Canadian defense contractor RaceRocks 3D, said his company made the video on its own to showcase its skills and boost Boeing's marketing efforts while it was bidding for work from AeroInfo, a Boeing unit in Canada.

Boeing is trying to round up additional orders for its F/A-18 fighter and the EA-18G electronic attack plane which is based on the same airframe to extend the plane's production past 2016, when it is currently slated to end.

Boeing executives say they see good prospects for F/A-18 orders from the U.S. Navy, Canada, Australia, Denmark and several other countries.

Lockheed executives say the cost of the F-35 is coming down, and they remain confident that the plane will prevail in Canada and the other markets given its radar-evading capabilities and other next-generation equipment.

Brand said Boeing was told about the video, but did not act to block its circulation. "They didn't forbid it," he said.

A Boeing spokesman said his company was not responsible for the video.

Brand said the 54-second film was intended to inject some humor into the long-running and increasingly charged Canadian debate over which fighter jets it should buy.

The video can be seen on the website http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWJeqrvoF6M

Canada, which helped fund development of the F-35 and was slated to buy 65 of the new jets, this year reopened its C$9 billion competition, inviting Boeing, Lockheed and three other manufacturers - France's Dassault, Europe's EADS and Sweden's Saab AB - to provide updated data.

"There's a huge debate about this here in Canada. Every living, breathing 6-year old is debating the merits of the F-35 versus the F/A-18," Brand told Reuters.

RaceRocks 3D on Tuesday posted a second humorous video that features the same two blond-haired boys, young actors from Vancouver, as they compare the support and maintenance service provided by Boeing for its C-17 transport plane with that of Lockheed's C-130J transport.

That video ends with the symbol of the Boeing subsidiary, AeroInfo, unlike the F-35 video which is not branded.

RaceRocks' website says the 25-person firm based in Victoria, British Columbia, provides "award-winning Hollywood quality training and media to the defense, transportation and safety industries." The company also does work for Thales SA, Meggitt Plc and other major weapons makers, it said.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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