Dassault reportedly pulling out of competition to replace Canada's aging fighter jets

The long effort to replace Canada's aging fighter jets has taken another surprise twist.

Multiple sources reveal that French fighter-jet maker Dassault is pulling out of the multibillion-dollar competition.

The decision comes just over a week after the federal government published the military's requirements for a replacement for Canada's CF-18s as well as a draft process by which a winning supplier will be chosen.

Dassault had repeatedly pitched its Rafale aircraft to Canada over the years as successive governments in Ottawa have wrestled with selecting a new fighter jet.

Dassault's pitch included significant promises, including that it would assemble the planes in Canada.

But sources tell The Canadian Press that Dassault's decision to withdraw was related to the fact France is not a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network.

They are the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The five members have very specific requirements for how their equipment works together.

The move leaves four companies competing for the 19-billion-dollar contract.

A contract isn't expected to be awarded until 2021 or 2022, with delivery of the first new aircraft slated for 2025.