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CF-105 Avro Arrow - Development

Project CF-104 started in July 1950 as an all weather fighter. The program CF-105 evolved from a redesigned CF-104/2. After the CF-103 program was cancelled, the priority was raised on the proposed C-104 Advanced Fighter. In March 1952, the RCAF's Final Report of the All-Weather Interceptor Requirements Team was submitted to Avro Canada. Further proposals resulted in two versions of a design known as the C-104: the single engine C-104/1, and twin-engined C-104/2. The designs were otherwise similar, using a low-mounted delta-wing and powered by the new Orenda TR.9 engines. Armament featured a battery of Velvet Glove missiles, (a Canadair Aircraft design), stored in an internal bay. The mission would be crewed by a single pilot guided by a completely automatic weapons control system to track and attack the target, (similar to the system utilized in the F-86D). The primary advantages of the twin-engine /2 version was that it was larger overall, with a much larger weapons bay and provided twin-engine reliability. The proposals were submitted to the RCAF in June 1952.

The CF-105 program consisted of four major projects; the airframe, development of which was being undertaken by AVRO in Toronto; the Iroquois engine at Orenda Engines Ltd., also in Toronto; the fire control system (ASTRA) on which Westinghouse in Hamilton was co-operating with a U.S. company, and the weapon (SPARROW) on which Canadair in Montreal was co-operating with a U.S. company. There were, of course, several sub-contractors in many parts of Ontario and Quebec.

A plan for CF-105 aircraft and PS-13 engines was authorized at a Cabinet meeting of March 8th, 1955. The company undertaking the work - A.V. Roe & Company - submitted, in September 1955, a revised estimate of costs which brought the total expenditures on the 40 planes and 14 engines to about $300 million. When the Cabinet Defence Committee was informed of this situation, it had decided that a thorough re-appraisal of the whole program should be carried out. As a result of this study various courses were suggested, but the one which seemed to the officials dealing with the matter as most sound was to improve the existing CF-100, to proceed with the CF-105 programme, and to plan to incorporate into the air defence system surface-to-air guided missiles when they were available.

The increased cost of aircraft was frightening. The F-86 cost about $400,000, the CF-100 just under $1 million, and by 1955 the CF-105 was expected to cost between $2 and $3 million. On 07 Decembre 1955 the Cabinet decided to delay for one year the date at which the CF-105 would enter squadron service. As a result, only 11 aircraft need be ordered before the first machines had flown, as against the 28 originally proposed. Including the engine programme this would cost $170.4 million up to April 1st, 1958, less the $35.5 million already spent. There would be a serious gap in the Canadian air defence system before the CF-105 would come into squadron use but after the CF-100 became unable to deal with the Russian bomber threat to be expected at that time. It was possible to modify the CF-100 to give it greater altitude, to equip it with "Sparrow" guided missiles, and thus give it a good measure of effectiveness until the CF-105 was available.

Dan Middlemiss noted "... by 1956, the development of the "Arrow" had burgeoned into an all-Canadian programme despite the initial intentions by the government to keep Canadian participation strictly limited. As later events were to demonstrate, an attempt of this sort to develop and produce all the major components for a major weapons system by inexperienced manufacturers was almost predestined to fail ... No allowance was made for the inevitable development problems and delays that would be encountered in such anambitious project." At the time, Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant General Guy Simonds criticized the project for consuming too much money while ignoring the trend toward surface-to-air missiles. He realized, however, that the desire of the air force, the aircraft industry, and defence research scientists to participate in a project that they could call their own swept aside any opposition to the venture.

By June 1957, the Liberals happily passed the problem to the new Conservative government under John Diefenbaker. The prototype RL201 was first seen at the Arrow roll-out ceremony at Malton, Ontario on 4 October, 1957. The day of the initial roll-out, 4 October, was by coincidence the same day that the Soviet Union launched the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik I, hinting that the threat that the Arrow had been designed to deal with was moving to a higher ground.

The Avro CF-105 Arrow first flew on March 25, 1958, following several years in development. This Aircraft flew 25.5 hours before the program was cancelled, the most hours of the six prototypes. RL-201 was one of five Avro Arrows flown in 1958-59 and was the first of the fleet to get airborne on 25 March 1958, when Avro test pilot Jan Zurakowski flew it for 35 minutes. 201 was the first Arrow damaged on 11 June, 1958 after a one and a half hour flight when the port landing gear failed to extend properly causing the Aircraft to veer off the runway which in turn caused some extensive damage. The Aircraft was flying once more on 5 October, 1958 after repairs and modifications had been made. Avro Arrow 201 flew 25 flights between 25 March 1958 and 19 February, 1959 for a total of 25:40 hours out of a grand total of 70:30 hours flown by all five completed Arrows. On its last flight 201 extended the flight envelope to Mach 1.75 at 35,000 feet while the highest speed achieved during Arrow test flights was Mach 1.96 by Aircraft 202.

Arrow 203 first flew on 26 September 1958. It flew a total of 12 times, for a total of 13.5 hours of flight time before the Arrow program was cancelled. Arrow 25203 first flew on 22 September 1958 and exceeded the speed of sound on this maiden flight, sustaining a speed of Mach 1.2. The exterior surfaces were painted dayglo to assist observers focussing on specific components under test. 203 was the only Arrow ever to sport the Canadian Commonwealth flag ("Red Ensign") marking on the tail. By the time the Arrow program was terminated, five of the six completed prototypes had flown a total of 70.5 hours.

During its tests the aircraft had flown at Mach 1.96 at 50,000 feet and had reached an altitude of 58,000 feet. The adoption of the MA1/Falcon/MB1 weapons system in place of the ASTRA/Sparrow had had the effect of increasing the CF-105's radius of action in a supersonic mission from 238 to 354 nautical miles, and in a subsonic mission from 347 to 506 nautical miles. The adoption of the system had also reduced the development time and would permit additional aircraft to be delivered for squadron service by September, 1960 instead of the spring of 1961.

By early 1958 it was estimated that the CF-105 could not be in squadron use until 1962 and that the Air Defence Command could not be completely equipped with them until 1965. In early 1959 the AVRO Aircraft Company submitted a new proposal which estimated the cost of 100 operational aircraft as being $781 million, or $7.81 million per aircraft. This excluded termination charges for the ASTRA/Sparrow system from September 1st, which were estimated to be $28 million. Although these costs had been reduced from $12.6 million per aircraft to this figure, it was still considered by many that the production of 100 such aircraft could not be justified at this price.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:35:04 ZULU