It's a sad state of affairs that the program was canceled. I am not Canadian by
birth (ex-pat Brit) but I have lived here for 15+ years, have a Canadian wife
and a Canadian daughter who recently covered the entire Arrow debacle in high
school history class but I still feel their loss.
Mind you, it's not only the Canadians who make bad judgments like this. The
Brits did a similar thing with the TSR2. :-(
oi. but our stuff was old and crappy, too. do you think the nuclear thing was
enough? i always figured that presented with a quick dash across germany
presented as a fait accompli, nato would have foleded and the u.s. would have
bailed. i didn't see much guts in the white house all through that decade.
As far as the Arrow goes, Great Britain is small enough in area that you
can indeed put a SAM umbrella over the whole place, which is more than
the US could do easily or Russia do, even at very high cost.
The SAMs would have a lot faster reaction time than Arrows if scrambled.
Arrows would have made some sense for Canada if the Soviets ever had
started fielding several hundred intercontinental bombers, but they
never did, which is why the Arrow, F-108, and YF-12 were
canceled...there was nothing for them to intercept.
The only way the TSR.2s could have gotten down to the Falkland Islands
would be several aerial refuelings, like the Vulcans had to endure to
get there (but in the case of the TSR.2, both the range and bomb load
were far less than the Vulcan) so the Argentinians wouldn't have
considered them much of a threat.
Outside of Argentina, who else would the UK be getting into a war with
during the 1970's? Iceland over the Cod Wars?
One thing stands out that's never taken into account about the Arrow,
and to a lesser extent about the TSR.2.
Both aircraft were designed to fight Soviet forces.
Both aircraft would now probably be obsolete, and retired from service.
This is particularly the case in regards to the Arrow, which was
optimized to intercept Soviet long range bombers...which the Soviets
never deployed in large numbers, due to Khrushchev's switch to ICBMs as
the primary Soviet nuclear strike force.
There was no Soviet attack even without either of the aircraft entering
service during the period of what would have been their operational
careers, so they were both unnecessary when you come right down to it -
and by canceling them, a lot of money was saved.
You could make a argument for TSR.2 export sales being a moneymaker for
Britain, but it would have been viewed as a Canberra replacement by
countries buying it, but a far more high maintenance and expensive
attack aircraft than the Canberra.
It was really too capable for the needs of a lot of smaller nations that
bought the Canberra, so sales might not have been that great, as look at
the comparable F-111's international sales.
If the UK had thrown the amount of time and effort at efficient subsonic
passenger aircraft that was used on the TSR.2 and Concorde, they might
still have a major share of the European market today, and Airbus may
never have come into existence.
By not pursuing a large military aircraft industry, Britain avoided the
pitfalls of the political power that a large defense industry wields, as
occurred in the US in the post-WWII years, and right up to the present day.
They'd been down that road once before during the battleship building
craze of the early 20th century, and it severely affected the nation's
Although it could fly other missions such as reconnaissance, and
conventional strike, the design was optimized for the low-level nuclear
strike mission, and that was going to work against it in international
sales - as there weren't that many countries that had nuclear weapons
that it could be sold to...in fact, the only one that comes to mind is
France...and no way in hell would the French be flying a British nuclear
You might be able to sell some to Australia, and maybe South Africa, but
beyond that the list of potential customers gets pretty thin. Without
drop tanks, combat radius was 1,000 miles, which was fine for a battle
in Europe, but short for a battle elsewhere.
Yeah, but those were arrangements with the governments involved in the
event of Soviet invasion.
In the case of TSR.2 you would have a aircraft designed for the
low-level nuclear strike mission deployed by several air forces.
It was easy enough to argue that the F-104s were primarily defensive in
nature, with a secondary offensive mission if war erupted. That wouldn't
be the case with the TSR.2; it was designed for a offensive mission and
had no air-to-air mission.
That would have made NATO look more offensive in nature, with all the
political fallout (no pun intended) that would cause.
I dug out my copy of "Project Canceled" and had a look at the TSR.2's
combat capabilities in its bombing mission.
In a nuclear strike configuration with a 2,000 lb nuclear or
conventional bomb aboard, it does pretty well...1,000 nm mission radius
with no drop tanks, 1,500 nm with a pair of drop tanks on the wing pylons.
If it flies a low level subsonic sortie right from takeoff and all the
way home, then it has a 600 nm range, with a added 50 nm range at
supersonic speed if it carries the drop tanks.
But as soon as you start hanging bombs under the wings things
With a 6,000 pounds of bombs in the bomb bay and 4,000 pounds of bombs
under the wings, range drops to 400 nm on a low level mission.
The aircraft suffered from a split personality; did it want to fly low
and evade enemy radar, or did it want to fly high and get speed and range?
The two concepts were hard to combine in a single airframe, especially
without a VG wing.
The Soviets found that out the hard way with their Sukhoi T-6-1 which
owed a lot to the TSR.2 as far as aerodynamics went:
What you ended up with with TSR.2 was something like the F-105, except
the F-105 was faster at all altitudes and carried a heavier max weapons
TSR.2 could get airborne off of a shorter runway, and had somewhat
better range, but it wasn't a super plane as it has been portrayed in
The TSR.2 engines still had a lot of problems in both reliability and
fuel economy with the program was canceled, as did the avionics.
If the F-111 had never entered production, people would be calling it a
lost super plane also.
And it of course also had a split personality as far as mission went, as
well as problems with its engines and avionics.
Looking back at its career, it can be called a mild success at best.
TSR.2 might well have ended up the same way, once the romance of its
martyrdom is removed.
As was pointed out at the time of the TSR.2 program, the Buccaneer _was_
a excellent aircraft that should have had real potential for further
major development, and would be something in improved versions that
could be sold internationally as a Canberra replacement, due to its
excellent range and conventional bomb capacity, as well as reasonable
cost per aircraft.
BTW, what was a _TSR.1_?
The English Electric P-17A?
You can see the basic problem here; Britain became so enamored of the
Mosquito that they wanted to make a high-tech supersonic equivalent of
it that could do any mission well, just like the Mosquito did.
This particularly shows up in regard to the reconnaissance mission for
the aircraft that keeps re-emerging in regards to the TSR.2 and Avro 730
I imagine you could send the TSR.2 out on a recon run deep into Soviet
or Soviet-controlled East European territory; but unless a Mya-4 Bison
or Victor refueling plane is ready to tank it up so it can get home, it
won't be coming back.
The tactical restraints of having a Victor tanker plane ready to go
somewhere over East Germany would be formidable, to say the least.
This is going to require some top-notch ECM development on Britain's part.
We retired the one (Jaguar) with the clear role in assymetric warfare last
year, with no directly equivalent replacement in place or in clear sight.
Typhoon is immature and still not ground attack optimised, Harrier is useful
but still subsonic and not really as formidable as Jaguar. And not a gun
between the pair of them.
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