Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Avro Arrow and Avro Canuck, custom built for Canada, by Canada

Custom built for Canada.  The Avro Canuck and Avro Arrow.

Don't worry, I promise not to go into the politics behind the Avro Arrow (much).  I will refer to the Arrow, however, as a shining example of what Canada actually needed at the time.  It, along with its predecessor, the CF-100 Canuck (or Clunk as it was sometimes called) are the only fighter aircraft designed by Canadians, for Canadians.  As such, they give us great insight to what an ideal fighter for Canada needs to be.

Canada enters the jet fighter business.  The CF-100 Canuck.

The CF-100 and CF-105 were designed and built in the early throes of the Cold War, when Canada's biggest military threat would have been Soviet Bombers crossing over the Arctic Circle.  What Canada needed was a fast, long range, all weather interceptor capable of meeting any Soviet bomber before it got too close to any potential targets.

The Canuck, introduced in 1952, had the range and all-weather capability, but it wasn't exactly fast by jet fighter standards.  Nor did it have cutting edge weaponry, initially being armed with only dumb-fire rocket pods.  It was a tough bird though, and its airframe could handle 20,000 hours of flight time.  It served until the early '80s.

The Avro Arrow, or CF-105, was designed to replace the rather outdated CF-100.  It shared the Clunk's all-weather capability and long range, but added a sophisticated radar, missiles, and the ability to fly mach 2.  Best of all, the thing just looked Canadian.  Big, powerful, but non-threatening with all its weapons mounted internally.
World class:  The CF-105 Avro Arrow.

Unfortunately, cost overruns and the proliferation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) made the Arrow a political target for the Deifenbaker government.  Development was cancelled and Canada was instead "convinced" to purchase a combination of Bomarc missiles and F-101 Voodoo interceptors from the United States.  Engineers behind the Arrow took jobs elsewhere, and all prototypes and schematics were scrapped for "security reasons".

Canada's nuclear missile:  The Bomarc.
The Bomarc missile was nothing short of total mismatch for Canada.  Designed to carry a nuclear warhead, there was much controversy how to arm it.  Replacing the nuclear warhead for a conventional explosive would have made the missile next to useless, but keeping the nuclear warhead would go against Canada's non-nuclear policy.

Armed with nukes:  The CF-101 Voodoo.

There was a similar problem with the CF-101 Voodoo.  The Voodoo was designed to carry two AIM-4D Falcon air-to-air missiles and two AIR-2A Genie nuclear tipped rockets.

Canada's rather ham-fisted solution was to arm the Bomarc and Voodoo with nuclear warheads that were still officially owned and operated by the United States Air Force.  Canada was now armed with weapons that it had to get permission from another country to use.

To review:  Instead of designing and building its own fighter jets to protect its sovereignty, Canada instead took to wrong step of buying American jets and missiles that required American permission to use.  Thankfully, Canada no longer fields nuclear tipped weapons, but we no longer have the capability to design and build fighter aircraft of our own.

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