posted on Sep, 11 2012 @ 08:56 AM
Disclaimer: I love the Avro Arrow. I had the wonderful opportunity to work as a restorer in the museum housed in what originally was the place where
the Arrow was built in Toronto. I also dislike the F-35 as an aircraft, and believe that the Canadian plan to purchase them is full of holes large
enough to sail an aircraft carrier through. I don't think it will do the job that the RCAF will likely need them for, and I think there are aircraft
in the world far more suited to what we need. All that being said, I will be very frank about this plan to bring the Arrow back.
The Arrow was a wonderful airframe in its time. It had some truly revolutionary ideas in it to combat some of the enormous challenges that it faced.
To a great degree it succeeded in these challenges. The problem it faced at the time was that it was at the trailing edge of the era where nations
would use nuclear bombers, and the defense strategy rested on stopping them. Countries were moving forward into the era of guided, nuclear missiles
which stood on the shoulders of the space race technologies. As missiles came in, interceptors became obsolete. As a result there is no modern niche
which interceptors fit into. Interception has become a secondary mission profile for recent aircraft, and those airframes which were designed for
interception in the Cold War have largely been converted to other roles (such as the MiG-31 which seems to be moving into reconnaissance and
engagement of high-value airborne assets). If we commission even an improved-capability Arrow it will still be built for a purpose that doesn't
really have a place in modern warfare. Effectively, this is going to hamstring it if you try and put it into roles it was never designed for, but
which are required in the formula for effective combat.
The other problem is the difficulty of engineering modern techniques into an old airframe. The fact is that the Arrow and its systems were designed
with a particular time frame in mind. Available materials, known techniques, and design methods. Half a century of improvements in aerospace are not
something you can just stick onto an airplane like a drop tank. The inside of the poor aircraft would have to be completely torn out and redesigned
with completely new techniques. Furthermore, I hate to rain on more parades, but the outside of the aircraft would not look the same. Advances in wing
design, intake design, and aerodynamics in general would mean that the whole exterior. For those keeping a running tally, that's approximately the
entire aircraft that would need a redesign. Let's not even mention the amount of things that would have to go into making sure that the aircraft gets
a decrease in RCS.
The third, and potentially most important, of the issues is the who. Who will do the design? Who will build all of the parts? Who will pay for it all?
The answers to these questions are not nearly as obvious as they may seem. For the purposes of making an all-Canadian aircraft our choices are few. We
have Bombardier and Pratt and Whitney Canada as our aerospace presence. Unfortunately, neither of these companies is prepared or really qualified to
head up such a program. Defense aircraft require specific parts which, themselves, require specific design. None of the companies we have in Canada
are prepared to undertake designs like that (Bombardier and P&WC doing civil aerospace designs). The cost to get them the appropriate facilities and
personnel to do so would make whoever paid for B-2 bombers break into tears.
Do I want to see a flying Avro Arrow? Yes. Do I think it could happen someday? Yes. Do I think the Arrow has a place in modern air combat? Not really.