Canada's greatest aeronautical achievement was the CF-105 jet fighter, and the subsequent cancellation of the project in 1959 still remains a story of political intrigue and controversy.

The CF-105, or Avro Arrow as it was known, was a supersonic jet interceptor developed by A.V. Roe of Canada. Faster and more advanced than any other comparable aircraft, the Arrow was designed to carry air-to-air nuclear-tipped missiles to destroy Soviet bomb attacks over the Canadian North.

But the costs of development kept mounting - the original production estimate of $2 million per aircraft rose to $12 million. At the same time, demand for the interceptors fell as the world entered the age of the long-range missiles.

Prime Minister Diefenbaker was under pressure from the US to join their defence plan by acquiring the American Bomarc missiles. Faced with the skyrocketing costs, and the inability to sell the Arrow to Europe or the US, Diefenbaker cancelled the project on February 20,1959. An angry A.V. Roe immediately fired his 14,000 employees, and the government ordered all plans and prototypes destroyed.

Cancelling the Arrow made good economic sense, but the effects were felt throughout Canada. Most of the scientists and engineers involved in the project moved to the US, and Canadians bemoaned the devastation of the Canadian aircraft industry. Negative public reaction marked the beginning of the decline of Diefenbaker's popularity, and led to his eventual defeat.