Thank you very much for the question.
I will at some point turn to my colleague Mr. Ross, because he and I have worked together on this operation for some time and we share both elements of the decision-making process, if you will.
If you look at a government considering an acquisition, in the first instance one of the things we'll do is look at what is either the capability that you're trying to replace or new capability that you would look to acquire. We would then together look at what was the policy rationale for either buying a new capability or replacing an existing capability. I don't think there's been any debate on that particular issue with respect to the need to replace the CF-18 fleet.
We then go to a third phase of the procurement process. The Auditor General in some of his work has actually laid out quite extensively what the phases in the procurement process and the phases in the acquisition process are.
The next phase of the process is needs and options identification, and there are four or five different steps in that process that we went through. We worked collectively with our colleagues in the Department of National Defence.
Here I would ask Mr. Ross to speak to some of the preliminary work that was done in those phases that eventually gets you to a point where you ask if there is a competitive field that is available to you, and should you then seek a competitive procurement, as the Treasury Board guidelines suggest you should do, if one exists?
Dan, do you want to talk about the options there?