Queensland-based Black Sky Aerospace (BSA) has successfully launched a prototype long-range missile from the back of a privately owned Mercedes-Benz Unimog.
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Black Sky Aerospace made the announcement at the 2023 International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) in the United Arab Emirates where the company is part of the Team Defence Australia presence on the Australian national stand. Next week, BSA will also attend the Avalon International Airshow in Victoria, Australia.
The launch took place on what is believed to be the largest private launch range in the world, Black Sky’s 3-million-acre site in the south-western Queensland outback — the 3.7-metre 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.
Black Sky Aerospace chief executive officer Blake Nikolic explained the product was the next step in a development that had taken just six months to go from idea to this latest and largest launch, progressing sovereign Australian capability.
“As we wait for announcements about Australia’s future sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) enterprise, it’s important that homegrown 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," Nikolic said.
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.
Nikolic added, “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 — this is a great advancement for sovereign missile development, with huge export opportunities.
“BSA will continue development work on its suite of products, all fully conceived, designed, manufactured, and tested in Australia,” Nikolic said.