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70 Years of Defence Science at the 'Bend

Further Information


A project that captured attention and greatly enhanced the reputation of Australian scientists and aeronautical engineers was the development of Jindivik, a subsonic unmanned jet-propelled target aircraft designed to measure missile performance.

Jindivik aircraft stationed at Evetts Field, Woomera
Jindivik aircraft stationed at Evetts Field, Woomera

Jindivik was built at the Government Aircraft Factory at Fishermans Bend with support from the Aeronautical Research Laboratories (ARL).  ARL’s pioneering expertise in flutter and vibration analysis was successfully applied to the project, with almost all wind tunnel testing being carried out at Fishermans Bend.

The first successful Jindivik test occurred in August 1952 from Evetts Field near Woomera. Five people at ground level flew the Jindivik target aircraft into position for trials.  Once the Jindivik reached operational altitude, it could be used to tow small targets on a wire cable that was reeled out, sometimes streaming thousands of metres behind the aircraft.  This target became the object of missiles fired towards it, thus saving the Jindivik, which could be returned to the landing strip by the ground crew and re-used for further target trials.  The first firing trial using Jindivik Mk1 took place at Range E, Woomera in October 1954. Further incarnations of Jindivik were designed and developed, and continued in service at Woomera until June 1975.

Source: Amended extract from Anticipating Tomorrow’s Defence Needs:
A Century of Australian Defence Science
, Peter Donovan 2007.

DSTO people involved:

Ian Fleming, Bob Bonnell and Frank Dixon


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