Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Broken Arrow

Another safely retired Canadian general with too much time on his hands, Lewis MacKenzie, is fronting for a group urging the feds to scrap the F-35, first-strike, stealth light bomber in favour of resurrecting the CF-105 Avrow Arrow, itself scrapped by the earlier Conservative government of John Diefenbaker.

Bollocks, Lew.

The Arrow was designed as a high-speed, long-range interceptor to launch nuclear-tipped air-to-air missiles against squadrons of incoming Soviet bombers.   In those days the Soviet bombers would penetrate North American airspace to deliver either bombs or short-range standoff missiles against strategic targets.

Some of those Soviet-era bombers are still flying today and every now and then they do probe our air defences.   They get close to the boundary of our airspace, we send up fighters, everyone takes a look at each other and then we and they go home.

Should it ever come to a shooting war with the Russians, they won't be sending bombers into our airspace for us to shoot down.   They wouldn't have to bother.   They would launch salvos of high-speed, long-range cruise missiles that would take out any worthwhile targets those bombers might otherwise attack.   And those missiles are surface-skimming.   They operate down in the weeds where they're harder to detect, track and shoot down.

The Arrow was never designed for low-level, in the weeds, operations chasing down salvos of elusive Russian cruise missiles.   And, besides, there would never be enough of them even if they could operate in those conditions.   Cruise missiles are cheap and, against a serious air defence, you launch lots of them to overwhelm the defenders.

So General Lew's is a truly blockheaded idea.   So is the notion that the F-35 would be much better than the Avro Arrow at defending Canadian airspace.   The F-35 isn't about defending Canada at all.  It's not built for that job.   It's built to operate in conjunction with American forces for a stealth, first-strike against  heavily defended enemy airspace.   The F-35 is intended to take part in an attack on China should Washington deem that necessary.   Buying the F-35 is our admission ticket to America's aerial Foreign Legion.   When will that start to sink in?


Carter Apps, dabbler of stuff said...

So are the other available fighters designed for hunting cruise missiles ? or more for hunting other planes?

The Mound of Sound said...

No, none of the fighters operational today would be very good to stop a determined cruise missile attack. One or two, maybe.

Most modern fighters serve as light bombers, ground support strike aircraft and dogfighters. A few, such as the F-15, the F-22 and the Su-37 family have the sort of range and speed to be viable interceptors.