Biggest Mistakes in aviation history: Top Five cancelled fighter jet programs

Biggest Mistakes in aviation history: Top Five cancelled fighter jet programs

In this article, we will share with you some of the Biggest Mistakes in aviation history: Top Five cancelled fighter jet programs

Every combat aircraft is designed and built to serve a specific purpose. But sometimes, a combat aircraft program may lose its purpose midway due to a number of factors such as budget cuts, political pressure, and technological obsolescence.

Whatever be the reason, when a program is cancelled, it leaves behind some “stillborn aircraft” and also raises a number of “what ifs”. The intrigue these cancelled programs present, fascinate people to this day.

Here are the top 5 cancelled fighter plane programs

1. North American XF-108 Rapier

The XF-108 Rapier was designed by the North American Aviation Company in direct response to the ever-increasing fleet of Soviet bombers. Though the North American Aviation Company had some very successful aircraft from its stable like the P-51, F-86, B-26 and the T-6, this revolutionary aircraft was to be the company’s last. Even though the aircraft sounded great on paper, it was simply too expensive for the USAF to procure and operate.


2. Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow

A cause of both national pride and intrigue, the infamous Avro Arrow is probably the most controversial aircraft on the list. It is also the only aircraft on the list to have a dedicated TV miniseries. The Avro Arrow was designed and built by the Avro Canada Company in the mid-1950s, based on studies done by the Canadian military. The aircraft was almost one hundred per cent Canadian and was seen as the epitome of the Canadian aerospace industry, until the sudden cancellation of the program on the 20th of February, 1959 by Prime Minister Diefenbaker.

3. IAI Lavi

Until the six-day war of 1967, the Israeli Air Force constituted of primarily French aircraft. However, after the war, France refused to deliver the new Mirage 5J aircraft that Israel had ordered and paid for. The Israelis were furious and felt betrayed by the French. They later outsmarted the French by secretly obtaining the blueprints of the Mirage 5 and built the IAI Nesher from these blueprints. When the first prototype was unveiled in 1985, the resemblance it bore to the F-16, which was already in service with the Israeli Air Force was striking.

Though almost 40% of the Lavi program was funded by the USA, the Americans had started prohibiting the export of cutting-edge technology to Israel because they feared that the IAI Lavi would be direct competition for American fighter aircraft such as the F-16, on the international market. To make matters worse, Israel suffered a massive economic depression in the spring of 1985, which ultimately sounded the death knell of the Lavi program.


4. Atlas Carver

The Atlas Carver program, sometimes referred to as the “CAVA program”, was a South African program led by the Atlas Aircraft Corporation, in a bid to replace the South African Air Force’s fleet of obsolete, vintage aircraft. By early 1991, the South African government had spent nearly $2 billion on the Carver program. The South African economy wasn’t exactly sitting pretty and some leaders began questioning the feasibility of the entire program. This caused the program to be put on the back burner.

5. Mikoyan Project 1.44/1.42

The RAC-Mikoyan Bureau was tasked with designing the lighter MIG MFI (Multirole Frontline Fighter). The program was progressing at a steady pace, only to be shelved with the fall of the Soviet Union. The heavy economic burden carried by the Russian Federation post-USSR breakup meant that the MIG MFI program didn’t have the funds necessary for its continued development. The cold war had come back to claim it’s the last victim.

However, this story has a silver lining. Though work on the project has stopped, the Russian government hasn’t canceled the program yet. This means that the project is simply dormant and could be reactivated if needed. But with the introduction of the Sukhoi PAK FA, the reactivation of the MIG 1.44/1.42 seems rather unlikely

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