The Cancellation of the Avro Arrow

Topics: Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow, Interceptor aircraft, Louis St. Laurent Pages: 9 (3263 words) Published: October 21, 2011
The success of the Avro Arrow was unique and groundbreaking for Canada, and its ultimate cancellation lead to many questions and speculation as to why the program was prematurely halted. The declassification of government documents has shed some new light on the events leading up to the cancellation of the Avro project; however; it is a legacy that will endure. The charges and countercharges regarding the decision are as diverse as life itself. This paper delves into the issues and the processes that surrounded Diefenbaker during the period in which he was contemplating the continuation or cancellation of the Avro Arrow project, the implications this would have on his government and the factors that led to his ultimate decision. It would appear on the surface that when Prime Minister Diefenbaker won the election in June 1957 and took control of a government and a country it was in a time of relative peace and stability. Overall, there was a strong economic outlook and high morale within the general population. In fact, what Diefenbaker found was that the defense budget had escalated well beyond any reasonable figure, and there were insurmountable management challenges particularly with communication issues surrounding the Avro Arrow project. These pre-existing conditions, compounded with the change in power, and new government mandates, was the direct hit that took out the Avro Arrow program and led to its cancellation and eventual destruction. Following the end of World War II, a new source of conflict was at the forefront of government decision making. Political leaders were cautiously observing the escalation of tension between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics into what is known as the Cold War. As an ally of the U.S., Canada was keenly aware that its security was strongly linked to the security of its superpower neighbour. During this post-war period, Canada experienced economic booms with a significant portion of the federal budget going to military expenditures. Within this military spending, significant energy and finances were targeted towards the Avro Arrow program. Not long after the Second World War, government contracted company A.V. Roe developed the CF100 as a long range aircraft designed for home defense. This aircraft turned out to be very successful and over 692 were built, including 53 which were put into service and sold to the government of Belgium. The CF100 had a triumphant service record of over 30 years, contributing to defense with NATO in Europe as well as service in Canada. The CF103, or Avro Arrow, was going to be the replacement for the CF100, and the new supersonic interceptor aircraft would be more advanced than any previous technology known to date. The program was using state-of-the-art technology with the goal to advance security defenses for North America from any possible attacks from the U.S.S.R. The United States was developing defense strategies for possible attacks to North America via the Arctic. The Avro Arrow was part of Canada’s contributions to continental security measures, and its design requirements were to meet these possible threats. These aircraft were designed to operate either independently or integrated into an overall defense system, and “the Arrow was to be the delivery part of a weapons system intended to intercept and destroy a high speed bomber invading the northern part of North America. The total system included the aircraft, airborne fire control systems and weapons and a ground based radar and communication system”. Prior to the creation of the program, Canada was embarking on a military buildup to counter the Cold War threat of Communism. The Liberal government at the time, under the leadership of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, was increasing defense and military spending for the country. In fact, during this time of spending, “defense had become the single biggest industry in Canada,” and the Avro Arrow...
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