The prime has tested the capability of a guided weapon powered by a locally-built motor, jointly developed with Southern Launch.
Thales Australia has conducted a safe test firing of a rocket powered by the locally designed and manufactured ‘Jones’ motor, as part of a broader program aimed at enhancing sovereign guided weapons capability by evaluating local rocket motor nozzle technologies.
The Jones rocket motor, manufactured at the Thales-managed Australia Munitions’ site in Mulwala, NSW, was co-designed by Southern Launch, an Australian SME providing launch services and bespoke rocket subsystems.
Southern Launch also hosted the test flight at its Koonibba Test Range, Australia’s first licensed launch site for overland suborbital rocket testing.
Dion Habner, managing director of Australia Munitions, said the rocket motor firing was a “core risk mitigation step” in a broader program to enhance the nation’s capacity to develop guided weapons technology.
“This represents a critical milestone in the return to routine rocket motor manufacturing at the Mulwala Munitions facility,” Habner said.
“In the late 1990s, advanced warhead and rocket motor facilities were established at Mulwala and since then advanced warheads, military rocket motors and ignition systems have been safely manufactured on site.
“Every day, high explosives and propellants are produced for systems used by Australian and allied forces, including the explosive effectors for GBU-12 aerial laser-guided bombs.”
He added: “Testing activities are a routine part of operations in Australia’s sovereign munition manufacturing facility at Mulwala.”
Earlier this year, Thales revealed that Australian Munitions exported a record $30 million in orders to the US, New Zealand, Canada, Asia and Europe over the course of 2020.
The orders included the sale of munitions, propellant, military explosives and sporting shooter munitions, produced in Australian Munitions’ facilities in Benalla, Victoria, and Mulwala.
The milestone came despite COVID-induced disruptions to the supply chain, which according to Thales, demonstrates the “superiority of Australia’s sovereign munitions product”.