Impact of the Bomarc Missile Program

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8th Feb 2020 Military Reference this

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Mutually Assured Distraction: Things That Go Boom

On June 7, 1960, a Bomarc missile had caught on fire in its hanger in Fort Dix, New Jersey. The Bomarc missiles were nuclear-armed ground-to-air missiles able to travel at near supersonic speeds of Mach 3. The Bomarcs themselves were 46 feet and 9 inches long with a wingspan of 18 feet and 2 inches and weighed 16,000 pounds. They had two Marquardt ramjet engines and were powered by an Aerojet general liquid-fueled rocket motor. The missiles were designed to carry a 7-10 kiloton nuclear warhead. The Bomarcs were designed and made by Boeing with the help of the Michigan Aeronautical Research Center (MARC). The missiles got their name from both companies, a mash of “BO” and “MARC”. The Bomarc was acquired by Canada in 1959 and stationed in North Bay, Ontario, and La Macaza, Quebec. It was made to intercept Soviet Union jet bombers that posed a threat on the United States and Canada, the final Bomarc missile was retired on October 1, 1972, because the threat of Soviet bombers had passed. The Bomarc Missile Program was a defining moment for Canada as it influenced them in future national trade agreements between themselves and the United States of America. The Bomarc missile program affected future trade agreements with the U.S. because Canada became wary of the United States. It brought up the use of nuclear warheads in Canada. As well as the alterations that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) made to the trades between Canada and the U.S.

The Bomarc missile program was a defining moment for Canada as it influenced them in future national trade agreements between themselves and the United States. It swayed their trade agreements because it made them wary of the U.S. The United States has had a long track list of wanting to weaponize space, one President being Ronald Reagan, who dreamed of space-based inceptors. This had offset Canada, as they had many doubts of the weaponization of space, “From Diefenbaker to Pearson to Mulroney, Canadian Prime Ministers have always kept one eye on the White House and another on the electorate while rejecting ‘Star Wars’ systems” (Granatstein 2005). Other than the Star Wars fiasco, Canada has also had problems with the United States President, John Kennedy, and his pushy attitude. “As Pierre Trudeau summed up in a 1969 Washington speech: ‘Living next to you is like sleeping next to an elephant; no matter how friendly or even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt’” (Mollins 2003). There have also been times when Canadian Prime Ministers have stirred conflict with the U.S., this happened when Pearson accepted an invitation to speak at Temple University in Philadelphia, “That prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson’s infamous ‘you pissed on my rug’ snarl at Pearson after the Prime Minister… dumped on US involvement in Vietnam” (Mollins 2003). The speech may have made the Canadian Prime Ministers more cautious of what they said to, and about the United States. The Bomarc missile program was a defining moment for Canada as it influenced them in future national trade agreements between themselves and the United States, making Canada wary. Canada’s wariness had helped the future Prime Ministers make deals with the United States and others.

The Bomarc missile program was a defining moment for Canada as it influenced them in future national trade agreements between themselves and the United States. The program had brought up the use of nuclear weapons in Canada. In order for the Bomarc missiles to be useful they required a nuclear warhead, “Over the next three years, public opinion in Canada turned sharply against Canada acquiring nuclear warheads” (Granatstein 2005). Some politicians, including Pearson and Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, also disagreed with the use of nuclear warheads. “The first time around, basing American Bomarc missiles with nuclear warheads in North Bay, Ont., and La Macaza, Que., ran into opposition from Prime Minister John Diefenbaker himself and objections from many other Canadians, including the Voice of Women” (Mollins 2003). Diefenbaker had then accepted the missiles but said no to the nuclear warheads. “Washington was furious and publicly rebuked him. Lester Pearson, leader of the opposition, indicated that he would accept the warheads if elected. Diefenbaker’s government collapsed and Pearson took office” (Byers, Canada 2007: Independent and Strong, 2007). There were also very little ways to test fly the Bomarc missile because it was a missile and crashed at the end of its flight. The Air Force had tried to give many reasons for how to test fly a nuclear weapon. “The Air Force tried out several justifications, arguing at one point that a nuclear-powered bomber could stay aloft for weeks at a time without refueling, positioned along the Soviet coastline to launch missiles at a minute’s notice” (Budiansky 1990). This justification was for that of a nuclear bomber, but, if this is how America justified the validity of their weapons than how could Canada possibly trust that the Bomarc missile was going to work if needed? The Bomarc missile program was a defining moment for Canada as it influenced them in future national trade agreements between themselves and the United States. The trade agreement with the Bomarc missile had brought up the use of nuclear weapons in Canada.

The Bomarc missile program was a defining moment for Canada as it influenced them in future national trade agreements between themselves and the United States. The Bomarcs partook in NATO and NORAD altering the trades made by the United States and Canada. Pearson had attacked the Diefenbaker Conservative government for failing to fulfill Canada’s obligations under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). “Pearson pleaded his liberal party would accept nuclear warheads for Bomarcs stationed on Canadian soil, and won the 1963 election on an apparently pro-American platform” (Whitaker & Hewitt 2003). Pearson had been going back and forth with what side he was on, pro-nuclear warhead or anti-nuclear warhead, over the years of the Bomarc missile program. Pierre Trudeau was a fierce critic of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and nuclear weapons. When he was Prime Minister he had to compromise. He allowed the U.S. to test cruise missiles over Canada in 1979. He too oversaw downsizing in Canada’s military contribution to NATO. There was also, Minister of Defense, George Pearkes who, “Felt Canada had committed itself to these weapons when it joined NORAD in 1957 and acquired the Bomarc missiles in 1959” (Hou, 2013). As well as, John Diefenbaker, who had refused to order the Canadian component of NORAD when the Cuban crisis erupted in 1962. Both Trudeau and Diefenbaker got stuck in this mess of NATO and NORAD in order to, somewhat, have the American government on their side if something were to happen. The Bomarc missile program was a defining moment for Canada as it influenced them in future national trade agreements between themselves and the United States. The missile program helped alter the trades made by the U.S. and Canada through NATO and NORAD.

Some may say that Canada was at peace without having nuclear weapons long before the Bomarc missile program started and that it did not affect the trades with the USA. “Basing American Bomarc missiles… ran into opposition from John Diefenbaker himself and objections from many other Canadians, including the Voice of Women” (Mollins 2003). The opposition proved that Canadians didn’t want any nuclear weapons inside of Canada. The Avro Arrow would have fulfilled Canada’s need for an inceptor jet without the use of nuclear weapons, but the Arrow was discarded to take on the Bomarc missile from the United States. Canadians believed in nuclear non-proliferation, which is the prevention and control over the number of countries with nuclear arms. Canada was the first country, capable of building nuclear weapons, that chose not to. Had Canada not done this, other countries capable of building nuclear weapons would not have chosen to stop building nuclear weapons either, “It has continued to refrain from developing nuclear weapons and, in a precedent-setting move that Ukraine and Kazakhstan later followed, removed all nuclear weapons from its soil” (Bratt 2002). Canada was at peace without having nuclear weapons long before the Bomarc missile program started, and it had not affected the trades between the U.S. and Canada.

Canada was not at peace without nuclear weapons long before the Bomarc missile program started, and it had also affected the trades between the U.S. and Canada. If Canada did not have the controversy with the Bomarc missile nuclear warhead, they would not have made laws against building nuclear weapons. The strengthening of Canada’s nuclear safeguards occurred in 1974-76 after the Bomarc missile program ensued. The policy statement in 1999 states that “Ottawa once again reiterated its view that the ‘preservation and enhancement of the NPT and the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime is integral to Canada’s national and to the human security of future generations’” (Bratt 2002). Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau undertook his famous peace initiative in 1983-84 that aimed at initiating a dialogue on nuclear disarmament. Other than the peace of not having nuclear weapons on Canadian soil, Canada is still under the protection of the American Nuclear Umbrella thus, it is protected even without its own weapons. With the added protection of NORAD and NATO, Canada has other countries, such as the United States, to fight against war. “If Canada were not a member of these alliances, it is likely that Washington would continue to view an attack against its northern neighbor as an attack against the United States” (Bratt 2002). Canada was not at peace without nuclear weapons long before the Bomarc missile program started, and it had also affected the trades between the U.S. and Canada.

The Bomarc Missile program was a defining moment for Canada as it influenced them in future national trade agreements between themselves and the United States of America. The Bomarc missile program influenced Canada as it made them wary of the U.S., it also brought up the use of nuclear warheads in Canada. As well as NORAD and NATO, that had altered the way trades were made between the United States and Canada. The lesson learned from the Bomarc Missile Program is the importance of being informed of the consequences of actions taken. What had Canada gotten from the Bomarc missile program? Other than the Bomarc missiles Canada received the VooDoo/Genie, CF-104, and the Honest John weapons systems in 1963. During the time of the missile defense, Mulroney helped form the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement. Canada gained protection from the United States as Washington might see an attack on Canada as one on them. Canada also lost the Avro Arrow program, which would have been the most technologically advanced aircraft of that time. The Bomarc missile program was a defining moment for Canada as it influenced the national trade agreements between themselves and the United States.

Bibliography

  • Amerian Security Ends up Costing Us. (2003). Toronto Star (Canada).
  • Boeing. (n.d.). Boeing: Historical Snapshot: Bomarc Missile. Boeing.
  • Bratt, D. (2002). Canada’s Nuclear Schizophrenia. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
  • Budiansky, S. (1990). The Wrong Stuff. US News & World Report.
  • Byers, M. (2007). Canada 2007: Independent and Strong. Toronto Star (Canada).
  • Byers, M. (2012). The Ghost of The Arrow. Toronto Star (Canada).
  • Granatstein, J. L. (2005). Wobbling on Missiles Follows Familiar Pattern. Toronto Star (Canada).
  • Guttman, R. (2017). The U.S. Air Force’s Pilotless Fighter. Aviation History.
  • Hou, C. (2013). Decidedly Divided. Canada’s History.
  • Mollins, C. (2003, June). The Swinging 60s (Vol. 76). Canadian Business.
  • Whitaker, R., & Hewitt, S. (2003). Canada and The Cold War. Toronto: James Lorminer & Company Ltd.

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