Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CF-105 - the Arvo Arrow - not a replacement option for the F-35

Yes, it looked cool, and the idea of Canada being
on par with the UK, France and the US was patriotic
I find the suggestion made by Lewis MacKenzie  that Canada consider a new CF105 Arrow instead of of the F35 insane.   All I can think is that Lewis MacKenzie woke up one morning and decided to see how easy it would be to get a prank idea into the media.

The Arrow was a second generation jet fighter, the first generation of ones that were designed to be able to fly at supersonic speeds.  The F-35 is a fifth generation jet fighter.  It is sort of like saying the Edsel could be a safer and more fuel efficient car than the latest Prius.

The Avro CF100 Canuck was a middling first generation jet fighter and came to the scene in 1952 to very shortly be out classed by the likes of the F-100, Javelin, Dassault Mystere and Saab Lansen.   The CF100 did seem to make some sense for patrolling the vast expanse of the Canadian north in the 1950s.  Avro only managed to sell 53 CF100s to Belgium.  Meanwhile Canadair had more success in selling their Canadiar Sabre, a licensed but improved version of the F-86.  They build 756 for export and RCAF sold a further 155 second hand.   Canadiar would later have similar success in selling their version of the F-5.

In my opinion the fate of the CF100 was going to happen to the CF105, it would late to the party, expensive and not been purchased by any other countries.  Cancelling the Arrow in 1959 made sense then and still does today.

Let us compare the Arrow to some competitors from the era:  The Convair F-102 Delta Dart and F-106 Delta Dagger, English Electric Lightning, Saab Draken, Dassault Mirage III and the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.

               CF105    F102     F106  Lightning Draken  Mirage III  F-4
Crew             2        1         1       1       1       1         2
Combat Radius  660km  1,050km  1,450km   685km  1,100km  1,200km    680km
Weight      22,245kg 11,100kg 11,077kg 14,092kg 7,865kg  7,050kg 13,757kg
Wing Area    113.8m2   61.5m2   61.5m2   44.1m2  49.2m2   34.9m2   49.2m2
First Flight  Mar 58   Oct 53  June 59   Apr 57  Oct 55   Nov 56   May 58
Max Speed   Mach 2.0 Mach 1.3 Mach 2.3 Mach 2.0 Mach 2+ Mach 2.2 Mach 2.3
price    est$4.3 mil $1.2 mil  $4.7mil   ?????   ??????   ?????? $2.4 mil

The CF105 Arrow was going to be a huge aircraft, two to three times the size of the competitors.  It would have been larger than the F-111 and Mirage IV, both of which were intended as bombers.  It was not going to be in production any sooner than the competitors.  It really had no advantages that I can see at all.

Let us compare the CF105 to planes Canada did acquire at the time, the McDonnell Douglas CF101 Voodoo and the Canadair CF104 Starfighter and the 1980s replacement CF18 and the proposed F-35

              CF105     CF101    CF104     CF18     F35
Crew             2        2        1     1 or 2      1
Combat Radius  660km   1,225km    670km    537km  1,080km
Weight      22,245kg  12,925kg  6,350kg 10,455kg 13,300kg
Wing Area    113.8m2    34.2m2   18.2m2   37.2m2   42.7m2
First Flight  Mar 58   Sept 54   Mar 54   Nov 78   Dec 06
Max Speed   Mach 2.0  Mach 1.7 Mach 2.0 Mach 1.8 Mach1.6+
price    est$4.3 mil   $1.8mil $1.4 mil   $35mil est $200mil

The CF101 Voodoo was a better plane for Canada than the CF105 would have been.   Buying the CF101 Voodoos saved Canada about $330,000,000 in the early 1960s just in the purchase price, roughly $2.6 billion in today's terms.

Operating the CF105 would have been more expensive because it would have used a lot more fuel and parts would have likely been a cost plus deal with Avro.   The CF101 used the same parts as the F101 in the US of which a much larger number were manufactured.

Starting again with the CF105 would be beyond belief in expense.   If one were to start now, realistically it would be 12 years before the plane would be ready for production.   The cost would likely be $400,000,000 to $500,000,000 per plane if Canada built 200 of them.   If only 100 were to be built it would be a cost of more like $700,000,000 per plane.

The first generation of jet fighters saw about a ten countries produce at least one with 40 or more proposed designs.  Each generation since then has seen fewer countries design and build a jet fighter and fewer over all designs.   Now with the fifth generation there are really only the US, China and Russia that are seriously trying to build one and only the F-22 is flying which cost $66.7 billion to get 195 in the air.


Jonny Quest said...

Good analysis Bernard. Always enjoy your insights!

Back in the '50's, numerous manufacturer's of civilian prop/jets were in existance. Today we are really down to two with Boeing and Airbus.

Same with air force aircraft. Numerous countries produced jet fighters during the 1950's and today that has dwindled to perhaps a couple in the U.S. and Europe.

And the ancient Avro Arrow couldn't be the basis for a new jet fighter in any event... in terms of design, aerodynamics, stealth, etc.

One would have to start from scratch. And that's a massive and expensive undertaking fraught with peril.

The per unti cost of a new Canadian design would be exorbitant. And may also be fraught with design problems.

Not much choice out there today besides the F-35 and the Eurofighter.

Anonymous said...

F-35's biggest problems: software and bad relationships - by John Reed, Foreign Policy

"Here are the biggest challenges the F-35 now faces, according to deputy JSF program manager Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan:

* Developing the final and most complex block of software on the aircraft, known as Block III.
* Retooling the jet's incredibly complex computer-based maintenance -- a system known as ALIS (Autonomic Logistics Information System) -- to protect classified information on the aircraft.
* Fixing the jet's potentially revolutionary helmet, which isn't working well enough to allow pilots to fly into combat with.
* Building trust between the Pentagon office charged with managing the program (known as the Joint Program Office), F-35-maker Lockheed Martin, and the various customers for the jet. Bogdan said the relationship between these three groups is the worst he's ever seen in 20 years of working on acquisition programs."

Anonymous said...

On the job just five weeks, the new deputy in charge of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program says the relationship between his office and the plans's manufacturer Lockheed "is the worst I've ever seen."

“We will not succeed on this program until we get past that,”
[Air Force Major General Christopher Bogdan] said in a discussion on the F-35 at the annual conference of the Air Force Association, a nonprofit civilian organization that promotes aerospace education. “We have to find a better place to be in this relationship. We have to.”