Idex 2023 in UAE: Rocket firm launches missile from back of Mercedes Benz truck in Australia

The successful test is a great advancement for sovereign missile development, say officials, with huge export opportunities

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Wed 22 Feb 2023, 5:29 PM

Australia-based rocket firm Black Sky Aerospace (BSA) has successfully launched a prototype long-range missile from the back of a privately owned Mercedes Benz Unimog – a special truck, the company announced during a defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

The 3.7m-long, 229mm diameter TM229 ‘Cyclone’ training missile was fired remotely from a custom weapon pod, all of which were manufactured in Australia, and mounted on the back of an ex-Army truck. The launch took place at Black Sky’s 3-million-acre site in the southwestern Queensland outback, which the company believes is the largest private launch range in the world.

BSA is participating in the ongoing International Defence Exhibition (Idex) as part of the Team Defence Australia present on the Australia pavilion.

CEO Blake Nikolic said the product was the next step in a development that had taken just six months to go from idea to this launch, progressing sovereign Australian capability.

“As we wait for announcements about Australia’s future sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordinance (GWEO) Enterprise, it’s important that home-grown businesses don’t stay idle. BSA is developing, refining and perfecting its capabilities to respond to government announcements on GWEO, so there are local options available to produce these vital defence capabilities,” he said.

Nikolic underlined the successful launch as a “great advancement” for sovereign missile development, with huge export opportunities.

“As the first firing, this was about testing the system, the launch and the design of the missile, and we were able to gather valuable data for future launches. The hardware, launch pod, avionics, propellant, rocket motor and nozzle were all manufactured in Australia, by Australians.”

The training missile is designed to simulate the experience of firing much more sophisticated and expensive missiles so trainees can gain live fire qualifications at significantly reduced cost.

“This missile can provide a sovereign, cost effective, rapidly deployable training rocket that could align with Australia’s, and allies', plans for long range fires. BSA will continue development work on its suite of products, all fully conceived, designed, manufactured and tested in Australia,” Nikolic added.

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