, Research Paper
Mr. Speaker, with the leave of the House I should like to make a somewhat lengthy statement on the subject of one facet of the national defense of Canada. . . . The government has carefully examined and reexamined the probable need for the Arrow aircraft and Iroquois engine known as the CF-105. . . . The conclusion arrived at is that the development of the Arrow aircraft and Iroquois engine should be terminated now. Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker,1Black Friday, February 20, 1959 Until recently, high-performance aircraft were not committed to production until after flight testing of one or more prototypes. . . . The Arrow programme is unusual in Canada in that even the first flying model has been built on production tooling. Avro News, October 4, 19572 Avro Canada was created in December 1945. After WWII, Avro Canada designed a number of aircraft; the CF-100 “Canuck” a transonic straight-wing all-weather fighter was the most successful one. In 1954 Avro Canada went under government control. This split it into an aircraft division and an engine division, which become Orenda engines. Avro Canada tried to design a replacement for the CF-100. These designs resembled CF-100s with swept wings and high performance. In April 1953, when the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) announced it wanted a twin-engine, two-seat interceptor with a radius of action of at least 1000km, a ferry range of no less than 6000 nautical miles (11000km) and a maximal speed of more than Mach 1.5. A need for 600 such aircraft was first seen. No such aircraft was available elsewhere, and the RCAF was unwilling to except anything less then what they wanted. A new type would have to be designed. The preference for twin-engine aircraft may have been based on the assumption that these are safer for long patrol flights over the large unpopulated regions of Canada. The armament of the new fighter was to be all-missile stored in an internal missile bay. This was to protect them for the environment and reduced drag.A shoulder wing configuration was used to make maintenance access easier. The chosen wing was a large, very thin delta wing. This design was submitted to the RCAF in 1953, it was accepted without delay. Tests with rocket-powered scale models and wind tunnel tests produced favorable results. Engine choice was to be a problem. First up was Rolls Royce RB106 engine, but it would not be available. The Wright J67 was chosen next, but this engine was cancelled in 1955. It was finally decided to use a domestic engine, the Orenda PS-13 Iroquois. This engine would not be available for the first prototypes.Avro Canada decided to use the Pratt & Whitney J75 to power the Mark 1 prototypes. The thrust of the J75-P-3 with full afterburner was 8390kg, equivalent to the maximal dry (no afterburner) thrust of the Iroquois. The Arrow Mk.2 would have the Orenda engines. The Mk.2A would have redesigned jet intakes and more fuel. The final Mk.3 version, with uprated engines, would be able to fly at Mach 2.5. During the development of the CF-105, political changes changed its intended role. The NORAD agreement signed in 1954 created a cooperation between the USA and Canada in the air defense of the North American continent. This was supposed to make it easier to sell the CF-105 to the Unites Stated Air Force (USAF), but this was unlikely to happen, because the Americans fancied developing their own aircraft. In 1957, the conservatives replaced the liberals in government. They and the new Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, were much less supportive of the CF-105 project. The order for the CF-105 was reduced to 100, for a price of 781 million dollars. Inflation, delays and development problems increased the unit price of the CF-105. The public dislike against the expensive interceptor increased. The press published every problem with the CF-105 at length. An important problem was that the enemy that the Arrow had been designed to stop, the high-flying supersonic or transsonic bomber, was perceived by many to be on its way out. The IM-99B Bomarc B surface-to-air missile had been ordered to reinforce the air defense. Bomarc B was more an unmanned interceptor aircraft than a missile in common sense: It was 13.3 meter long, weighed 7260kg, and had a range of 710km. Although Bomarc could not officially replace the Arrow, it did contribute to the attitude that the Arrow was redundant. The cancellation was, of course, strictly a cabinet decision. We know from Erik Neilson’s book, The House is not a Home, that there was no debate or discussion in caucus.3 They were just told that the decision had been made. The Hon. Donald Fleming, Finance Minister in the Diefenbaker Cabinet, goes into considerable detail in his memoirs published in 1985.4 It is apparent from these memoirs that Cabinet viewed the Arrow contract with concern in 1957, but because they were a minority government facing an election in the near future, Cabinet did not dare to cancel the Arrow then. 5 A majority in the 1958 election made way to cancel the project. The Government still needed to create conditions that would make the cancellation appetizing to the voting public. Cabinet was aware that the loss of 25000 jobs (the number estimated to be directly related to the Arrow project) would have serious political and economic ramifications.On August 28th, 1958 the Hon. George Pearkes, Minister of Defense, gave the Cabinet the Bomarc anti-aircraft missile proposal from the U.S. This was accepted as a possible substitute for the Arrow at a much lower cost to Canada. At this time, Pearkes recommended the cancellation of the Arrow program.September of 1958, the government told the A. V. Roe company to reduce the costs of the program. The major saving was the canceling of the Astra fire control system and replacing it with an American “off the shelf” system. They were also told at that time that the program was to be reviewed in March 1959.Sometime between July of 1958 and December of 1958, an agreement was reached with the U.S. that if the Arrow and its support systems were cancelled, there would be defense production sharing between Canada and the U.S. Senior Canadian Cabinet Ministers attended an international meeting in Paris in mid December of 1958. During discussions at this meeting between the Canadians and the U.S. representatives, the U.S. refused to buy the Arrow. The question put by the Canadian delegation was “will you buy the aircraft”, not “will you assist the Arrow project”. The selection of which question to ask was critical since in the fall of 1958 an Avro executive had approached the U.S. defense department with the latter question and had received a commitment of assistance for the project. On December 22nd, 1958, the Cabinet was notified of the U.S. refusal to buy the aircraft. It was agreed at this time that the cancellation and the defense production sharing agreement with the U.S. were to be announced together early in the New Year. This action was delayed until February 20th, 1959 because of other problems. Prior to this date, there were no discussions or debates outside of Cabinet. The promised March 1959 program review, which implied some sort of public discussion, was internally avoided.Fleming claimed it was the U.S. refusal to buy the aircraft in December that sealed the Arrow’s fate. The government must have known from the start that the U.S. would never make an offshore purchase of an aircraft, the powerful U.S. aircraft industry would never have permitted this to happen. So why did the Government wait until December of 1958 to formally ask the U.S. if they would buy the Arrow when they must have known for some time that the answer would be no? It is obvious that the intent to cancel existed early in the Diefenbaker regime. All the Government needed was the right setting to minimize political damage. Acceptance of the Bomarc anti-aircraft missile as a cheap substitute for the Arrow provided the conditions the Government was looking for. The obvious conclusion is that the Government delayed asking the crucial question of the U.S. until the other conditions were in place. It was asked early enough so that the March review could be avoided. Cabinet documents released under the thirty-year rule, sparse as they are, generally confirm this sequence of events. The documents for 1958 reflect: Diefenbaker’s anger with the A.V. Roe “lobby” which he claimed was intense, concern over the cost of the program; the refusal of the Americans to support the program; and the obsolescence of aircraft created by the Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). In 1959 Diefenbaker’s main concern was not with the cancellation of the Arrow, but with how to tell the public the news of its death sentence. The 1960 papers show a Diefenbaker agonizing over how to admit to the public that the government was considering buying a supersonic fighter, the CF101 Voodoo, from the U.S. The Hon. John Diefenbaker in his memoirs One Canada: the Years of Achievement 1956 to 1962, does not even mention the Arrow cancellation.Before the cancellation there was no equivalent to a defense “white paper” that examined Canada’s military role and hardware needs and that would have allowed public debate.A. V. Roe had been told on a number of occasions in 1958 that the pre-production order for 32 Mark 2 Arrows with the Iroquois engine was not in jeopardy.The cancellation was made on Feb. 20th, 1959, by Diefenbaker’s announcement in the House and the simultaneous notice to the company to cease all work. This left no room for a public debate. A number of reasons for the cancellation were given after the fact. With the Diefenbaker government’s concerns about public relations, it is not surprising that a number of them were aimed at discrediting A. V. Roe and the CF-105. Even with the information available at the time, these “reasons” are not too difficult to contradict. There were heated arguments, but no debates in the sense that the government was willing to change its mind. There were five major “reasons” given by the government:”The program was too costly.” This appears to have been the major excuse for the cancellation. The Arrow was an economically efficient design. Diefenbaker’s claim was that the Arrow program would have cost two billion dollars by 1964 for 169 aircraft or 12 million for each aircraft and that this was too much. To put this in perspective: in 1982 the CF18 which Canada purchased from the U.S., was estimated to cost 5.2 billion for 138 aircraft or 37.7 million each.6 Escalating Diefenbaker’s estimate for the Arrow from 1962 to 1982 brings his price to 34.3 million each, or 10% less than the CF18. Diefenbaker’s estimated 12 million was highly inflated, at the same time the company was offering a bare bones price of 3.6 million. The actual cost was in between these two numbers. This would have made the Arrow about half the cost of the CF18. The big thing was that most of the money spent on the Arrow stayed in Canada while most of the money spent on the CF18 has left the country. The theme running all through the cost argument was that Canada was too small and too poor to undertake such a project as the Arrow without financial help from our Big Brother to the south.
The Diefenbaker government never publicly stated what the cost of cancellation was. There was a firm order for 32 Mk 2 Arrows with the Iroquois engine. All work completed and outstanding purchase orders for these aircraft had to be paid for along with cancellation penalties. One reporter suggested that cancellation costs were close to the cost of completing 32 Mk 2s.7 The government’s approach was to hide the cost by spreading cancellation payments over several years so that the total would not appear on any one year’s budget. The delaying tactic used was to change the claims procedure half way through the process. Attempts to salvage anything from the program were suppressed by the government. This was especially true of the Iroquois engine development, which was brought to an end while there still were potential customers for the engine. We will never know how much this cost Canada. Another cost of the cancellation was the loss of close to 30,000 jobs across Canada, but mostly in Ontario.8 More important to the future of the country was the movement of hundreds, maybe thousands, of skilled engineers and technicians to the U.S. This was a loss Canada could not afford. Like the cancellation costs, these costs did not come into the Government’s accounting. Another loss to Canada was that of the amount of research and development work and knowledge that came from the Arrow program. The destruction of the aircraft, engine, all the tooling, test rigs, reports, drawings and computer programs made this work unrecoverable. Since many of these people left Canada, that knowledge went with them. The Arrow cancellation was a blow to research and development in Canada. The RCAF’s Institute of Aviation Medicine was heavily involved in the Arrow program and had built up an international reputation for excellence. The cancellation of the Arrow seriously decreased their work. The price of Canadian sovereignty, what could have been the cost benefits from the Arrow program and the cost penalties associated with the cancellation do not appear to have been considered at all.”The aircraft did not have sufficient range.” The RCAF specification AIR 7-3 called for a minimum high-speed combat radius of 200 nautical miles. The Arrow not only could meet this requirement, but also is quoted as having had a “full internal fuel” radius for this mission of 436 nautical miles. A proposed future modification would have increased the radius to approximately 650 nautical miles.9 “The ICBM with a nuclear warhead had made bombers, and hence fighter aircraft, obsolete.” This was a misconception. ICBMs with nuclear warheads in the hands of both the Soviet and the West introduced MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) and a stalemate as far as nuclear war was concerned. It did not prevent conventional war with its use of bombers and fighter aircraft. Korea and the build-up of conventional weapons in Europe under NATO prior to 1958 bore witness to this. When the Arrow was cancelled, neither the West nor the Soviets stopped developing aircraft. The present families of aircraft with their smart weapons as used in the Gulf war are the end product of this development. Canada stopped developing its own aircraft, but continued to acquire them. Military fighter aircraft were a long way from becoming obsolete when the Arrow was cancelled. “An alternative weapon, the Bomarc, could do the same job at a much lower cost to Canada.” The Bomarc was a ground-launched, winged missile that homed in on a radar signal bounced off an incoming enemy. It was an anti- aircraft; not an anti-missile weapon as some members of Cabinet assumed it to be. Its range and performance were roughly the same as the Arrow’s. The complete weapons system consisted of the Bomarc with a nuclear warhead and a ground radar and communications system. There was to be a line of launching sites strung across North America near the Canadian-American border. When Canada agreed to accept the Bomarc, two of these sites would be relocated into Canada: one at North Bay and one in northern Quebec. The system was a not a success and was gradually phased out by the U.S. Defense Minister Pearkes. In the end, the Diefenbaker government embarrassed the Americans by insisting on using the Bomarc as a substitute for the Arrow after the U.S. was having serious second thoughts about the program. It had many faults. It could be fired only once making it rather difficult to test. It could not; as with a manned airplane, see what the target really was before it blew up the target. It was vulnerable to electronic counter-measures and it required a nuclear warhead to be effective. “Foreign sales, especially to the U.S., were unlikely.” Foreign sales were unlikely unless the Canadian government bought the Arrow first and put it into service. With the aircraft in service and a success, there would always be the possibility of foreign sales. The exception would be sales to the U.S. The powerful lobbies of the American aircraft industry could be expected to oppose effectively any U.S. purchase of a complete aircraft. Fulfilling Canadian obligations to NORAD and NATO would have been enough to make the Arrow program worth while. Foreign sales, while helpful, were not a prerequisite for the program.The irony is that the two major programs the government used to support cancellation of the Arrow, the Bomarc and defence production sharing, both turned out to be flops. In 1958, prior to the actual cancellation of the Arrow, the U.S. planned to build forty Bomarc bases. The program ran into trouble and the number was reduced to eighteen, then to twelve with the proponents of the Bomarc fighting to save the program. Canada was told in mid July of 1960, just over a year after the cancellation of the Arrow, of the program’s delay and work on the two bases in Canada was slowed down.The problems with the Bomarc had serious consequences. On February 4th, 1960, Cabinet was told that a supersonic fighter was needed to defend Canada. The Commander in Chief of NORAD, General Kuter, was requesting the replacement of the CF100 with some up-to-date equipment. The Canadian Chiefs of Staff recommended the purchase of 66 C101Bs (the Voodoo) from the U.S. These were second hand aircraft costing less than the Arrow, but with much lower performance.The political implications of this proposed purchase so soon after the Arrow cancellation were obvious. On March 8th, 1960, Cabinet decided not to negotiate it. The international situation deteriorated and on July 4th a proposal was put before Cabinet to exchange 37 CL44s, freighters built by Canadair in Montreal, for the 66 Voodoos. Each package was valued at approximately 155 million. A deal was worked out and announced by Diefenbaker about a year later on June 12th, 1961. There is no record of any CL44s being sent to the USAF. This exchange fell through because it was an election year in the U.S. and the administration there did not want to risk antagonising the American aircraft industry. The final deal was for Canada to man sixteen Pinetree Line radar bases in exchange for the Voodoos. Obviously this final deal was not as much help to Canadian industry as the original proposal would have been, but then bargaining with the U.S. has never been easy. Not so well known is the fact that defence production sharing turned out to be a playing field in favour of the U.S. The purchasing procedure in the U.S. followed the normal practice of issuing a specification to those on the bidder’s list in the U.S. and calling for tenders to be in by a certain due date. An information meeting would be arranged by the agency calling for tenders so that all the prospective bidders would have a chance to ask questions and get any uncertain areas cleared up. When the specification was issued to U.S. suppliers, it would also go to a joint U.S./Canadian committee who would decide if Canadian suppliers could take part in the bidding. If the answer were yes, the specification would then be sent to the Canadian government, which would circulate it to Canadian firms.With these built in delays, by the time a Canadian firm got the specification, the date of the information meeting would be past and the due date for tenders rapidly approaching. There were even cases in which the request for tenders arrived after the closing date. Bibliography Books: Pedan, Murray. Fall of an Arrow. Sittsville: Canada s Wings, 1978. Organ, Richard, Page, Ron, Watson, Don, Wilkinson, Les. Avro Arrow: The Story of the Avro Arrow From Its Evolution To Its Extinction, Erin: THE BOSTON MILLS PRESS Campagna, Palmiro, Storms of Controversy. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Co. Limited, 1992. Stewart, Greig, Shutting Down the National Dream, Whitby: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, 1997. Internet: Champion, Chris, The Arrow myth still flies http://diefenbaker.ottawa.com/text/ar1.htm> Belleville Intelligencer, Search to begin for Avro Arrow Models http://diefenbaker.ottawa.com/text/windsor1.htm > Zuk, Bill. The Roll-out of the Avro Arrow http://www.achq.dnd.ca/roundel/jun96/rollout.htm> Notes: 1) House of Commons, Debates, 20 February 1959, 1221-24; J. B. McLin, Canada s Changing Defence Policy, 1957-1963 (Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1967).2) Avro News, Vol. 3, 4 October 1957. 3) Page 118 and 119 of The House is not a Home by Erik Neilson, Published by Macmillan, 1989.4) Page 9 to 19 of Vol. 2 of So Very Near by the Hon. Donald Fleming. 5) Ibid. page 416 and 417 of Vol. 1 6) Pages 249 and 256 of There Never was an Arrow by E. K. Shaw7) Footnote on page 158 of Fall of an Arrow by Peden.8) Page 157 of Fall of an Arrow by Pedan.9) Page 155 of Avro Arrow by Organ et al.