Airbus pulls out of competition to supply Canada with new fighter jets


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OTTAWA, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Airbus SE AIR.PA said on Friday it was pulling out of a multi-billion dollar competition to supply Canada with 88 new fighter jets, citing onerous security requirements and a late rule change that allowed its main rival to submit a bid.

The move increases Lockheed Martin Corp's LMT.N chances of winning the race. Airbus and other contenders had complained that Ottawa appeared to be tilting the race in favor of the U.S. aerospace giant.

Airbus made the announcement in a joint statement with the British defense ministry, which was formally in charge of trying to persuade Canada to buy the firm's Typhoon jet.

Canada launched the long-delayed competition last month and said it was confident no favoritism had been shown toward any one contender. Ottawa says the contract is worth between C$15 billion ($11.30 billion) and C$19 billion.

The Canadian air force though had long made clear its preference for Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter. Canada is part of the consortium that developed the plane.

Airbus and Boeing Co BA.N were particularly upset that Canada altered the rules of the competition in late May to allow Lockheed Martin to stay in the race.

($1 = 1.3275 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio)

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