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Ikara guided missile torpedo

The 1950a were a time when those articulating Australia’s defence needs believed these could be wholly satisfied by buying proven technologies from powerful allies. In these circumstances, the work undertaken by the various research establishments continued largely as before with the range and scope of projects undertaken generally being suggested by scientists themselves, though with endorsement of the Defence Research and Development Policy Committee that undertook regular reviews of programs.

Ikara was a guided missile carrying a torpedo that was designed to be launched from a surface vessel and used against submarines. Ikara, which gained approval in 1959, had its origins in work carried out in the early 1950s on the Malkara wire-guided missile and was made possible by the use of a new generation of sonar equipment that extended the range at which submarines might be detected. The Ikara weapon was of two parts, the first being the remote controlled vehicle 3.4 meters long with delta-shaped wings spanning 1.5 meters and powered by a composite boost-sustainer solid motor. This carried an American Mk44 torpedo, 2.5 meters long, that had an active sonar guidance system to enable it to home in on a target.

The government approved the program in November 1959 and design and construction of Ikara began the following year. It involved the collaboration of scientists from all defence science laboratories with those at Fishermans Bend led by Murray Evans becoming responsible for designing the remote controlled missile, and its testing, performance assessment, trials planning and evaluation, wind tunnel testing, and manufacture of many prototype parts. Scientists at Salisbury developed the solid propellant rocket motor and equipment for tracking and guiding the weapon during flight. The Royal Australian Navy undertook development of the magazine, handling and launching system while the Government Aircraft Factory, Melbourne, EMI (Australia) Ltd, Salisbury, and approximately 200 subcontractors provided other assistance.

Trials on scale models were carried out in 1961 and 1962 at Woomera where missiles could be recovered and examined. The first full-size missiles were tested there in April 1963, with sea trials taking place aboard HMAS Stuart off shore from Sydney in August 1963. The first production version of Ikara entered service on HMAS Derwent in January 1966. Additional development, modification and trialling of the Ikara system followed and ultimately led to the system gaining international recognition. United States authorities closely followed the work and contributed approximately $5 million towards development under the program of Mutual Weapons Development Aid to allied nations.

Delivery of modified Ikara systems to the Royal Australian Navy commenced in September 1968, to the Royal Navy in 1972 (with the UK taking delivery of the thousandth Ikara missile five years later) and to the Brazilian Navy in 1978 when it bought a version called Branik. The Royal New Zealand Navy introduced the Ikara aboard HMNZS Southland, formerly HMS Dido of the Royal Navy, in 1983. Unfortunately, no sales were made to the United States, which meant that the system became relatively costly to produce.

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Page last modified: 27-03-2012 18:13:10 ZULU