The Canadian government has rejected US orders that it comply with the incredibly dangerous and wrongheaded waste of resources euphemistically called the “missile defense shield”;
Prime Minister Paul Martin said Thursday that Canada would not join the contentious U.S. missile defense program, a decision that will further strain brittle relations between the neighbors but please Canadians who fear it could lead to an international arms race.
Let’s go back in time a bit. Early in the Cold War era, a problem developed for Canada. In the event of a Soviet bomber attack against the US, the bombers would have to fly east to the north pole, and then south over Canada, to get to the targets in the US. It was decided that Canada should help its partner to the south by constructing some sort of defense (My solution would have been to tell my friends the Americans “Hey hosers, about this cold war thing, cut it out willya? Thanks, eh?”). In 1954, development began in Canada, on a homegrown project which would, within four years, produce the greatest warplane of it’s era.
The CF-105 Avro Arrow
On October 4, 1957, after four years of development, the first of the planes was rolled out for press and public inspection. The purpose of the aircraft was to intercept Soviet bombers and shoot them down before they got anywhere near their targets. The planes were to be stationed in the North, to facilitate an early completion of the task, and over non-civilian areas. The Arrow would completely outclass the current generation of Soviet bombers, tripling or quadrupling their speed (the Arrow probably would have “supercruised”, meaning faster-than-sound speed while not using afterburners, a feat only accomplished by one other warplane; the F-22 Raptor.), and being armed with state-of-the-art missiles. The Soviet bombers would have been easy pickings. During two years of trials, the Arrow exceeded every expectation.
On February 20, 1959, now known in Canada as “Black Friday”, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker announced that the Conservative government was cancelling the Arrow programme. Why? The publicly given reasons were a “changing threat” which the Arrow couldn’t meet, and the supposedly enormous cost of the planes. The actual reason is as follows. The Arrow was developed with the co-operation of the US government. Wind-tunnel testing was even conducted on the top secret design at a US University. But when the time came, the US betrayed Canada on a hand-shake agreement to buy Arrows for its own air defence. This put the programme in some financial trouble, although exaggerated by the Canadian government for public consumption. The bigger concern was the CIA. It was conducting illegal surveillance flights over the Soviet Union at the time, using the U2. The Arrow would have been the one plane in the world capable of shooting down a U2 (at the time, the CIA didn’t understand that Soviet SAMs could dot he job, but they were educated in 1960 when Gary Powers’ plane was downed and he was put on display during an embarassing public trial), and the CIA was worried about it falling into the “wrong hands”, by which I’m sure they meant that they didn’t want Canada to be able to shoot down one of their planes. It isn’t good to give your “trusted allies” leverage against you, when the time comes to bargain for trade agreements and so forth.
The Arrow design was stolen by Soviet spies, who used it to design the MiG-25 Foxbat, a similar plane, which debuted at the Domodedevo air show in 1967, and every other MiG since. After contributing to shattering the lives and destroying the dreams of the Avro and Orenda (which made the awesome Iroquois engines for the Arrow) employees, the Americans stole them as well. Twenty-Five of them went to NASA including Canada’s most brilliant engineer Jim Chamberlin, and were the brains and guts behind the US space program, and later worked on the Space Shuttle, which resembles the Arrow. The design also heavily influenced all of the pathetic US aircraft industry’s planes, and the Concorde, which the Arrow resembles. All five prototype Arrows were destroyed, and sold for scrap iron. Legend has it that one survived, RL25202, spirited away by officials and Avro employees at the last moment.
The US can’t drag out the old arguments about “Cold War Containment” or any of that garbage. Now it’s all blatantly about power and control, and the rest of Creation just ain’t falling for it anymore. All over the world, as evidenced by its unprecedented unpopularity, the US is losing influence and getting boxed into a corner. Friends are disappearing fast – who’s next?
A while back, I had a short debate with Palmiro Campagna, who has written extensively on the Arrow, including the book Storms of Controversy. I suggested that the Arrow would have accelerated the arms race to levels undreamt of, and perhaps ended the human experiment in a terminal nuclear war. He rejected my claims on the silly basis that the US was, at the time, developing the SR-71, which had similar performance ratings as the Arrow. That argument breaks down when the mission of the SR-71, to take photographs, is compared with the Arrow’s, to negate the Soviet response to an American sneak attack.