Australian rocket company Black Sky Aerospace (BSA) has successfully launched its prototype ultra-mobile artillery rocket from a standard utility after just months of development. In its accelerated program to develop Australian Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO), BSA identified the opportunity to mount missiles to standard vehicles for extreme circumstances such as Ukraine faces today.
Black Sky CEO Blake Nikolic said the program had paid off in both development of the capability and the team’s abilities for rapid prototyping. “When we saw what was going on in Ukraine, the team thought that was the chance to develop something ground-breaking that might be able to help,” Nikolic said. “We still have more work to do but I’m so proud of how far the team has come in solving problems to get us to the point where we are firing prototypes off a ute,” he said. “Working with our Queensland-based partners we have tested the guidance system and gathered much-needed data to take the project to the next level.”
General Manager of Defence and National Security James Baker said the system could have wide application for Australia and its allies. “This rocket is 76mm in diameter and 1.7m long, which we can scale up and down depending on the requirement,” Baker said. “In order to test in civilian airspace, we don’t fit warheads, and we stay within strict height and distance parameters; but this version of the missile will be capable of firing about 15kms, and carrying a range of explosive ordnance,” he said. “Future variants on larger vehicles will be capable of greater distance and payloads but staying offensive-weapons-free has allowed us to make much faster progress than would otherwise be possible.”
This test caps of a momentous year for Black Sky in which it tested the largest ever Australian home-grown solid rocket boosters, built and fired guided weapons from its own rocket pod, constructed a new solid rocket booster test stand, and tested an Australian-first training missile. “This has been a year of quantum leaps in Australia’s rocket propulsion technologies and local guided weapons development,” Nikolic said.