Australian Missile Development


By 1950, Australia was beginning to accept the geopolitical fact that its future lay as a regional power in the Pacific. Its links with Thailand and India were growing but the Triple Alliance that was to dominate the Indo-Pacific region was as yet not much more than a particularly healthy infant. On the other hand, Australias defense relationship with Great Britain was growing steadily more distant as Britain became immersed in its own problems and its power contracted, while the United States remained at best a distant if friendly presence in the Pacific, so in the absence of another big brother to lean on, Australia came to realize that it would have to learn to stand on its own feet.

The problem was that there was so much needing to be done in so many areas to establish the country on a healthy and independent footing. One particularly thorny issue lay in the field of advanced weaponry. It was obvious that Australia could never compete with other regional powers such as Chipan in terms of massed armed forces, there simply werent enough Australians for that. The Ministry of Defense had long come to the conclusion that it would have to substitute quality for quantity; that its defensive capability had to rest on maintaining a marked technology edge over its potential foes, and it was a perception reinforced by the way the Triple Alliance was developing.

Each of the three principles, Australia, India and Thailand, had attracted a group of satellite countries or quasi-autonomous dependencies that looked to them for patronage and representation in the Triple Alliance meetings. India represented Nepal, Bhutan, Bihar, Burma and Ceylon, Thailand represented the Philippines, Indonesia and to some degree Malaysia while Australia found itself the patron of the Southern Pacific.

That patronage also reflected itself in the strategic problems facing the country. Thailand and India were continental powers whose might was largely expressed by their armies, in Indias case the largest in the region after that of Chipan. However Australias own situation demanded both a military and a naval power with air support to match, and this amounted to a good deal more than the nation was capable of providing unless technology could multiply the force that was available.

In defense terms, one aspect of this decision was a developing interest in missile technology. In an era when it was assumed every missile fired would hit its target (however innocent that assumption might now seem), armed forces that relied on missiles could have a decisive advantage over those that did not. The Australian Government did what every British-influenced government did when faced with a decision, they formed a committee to examine future missile development (CEFMID). CEFMID came up with a requirement for the following types of missile.

A strategic air-defense and anti-missile system
A short-range naval air defense missile
A medium-range naval air defense missile
A long-range naval air defense missile
An anti-submarine missile
An anti-ship missile
A tactical land-based point defense anti-aircraft missile
A tactical land-based area defense anti-aircraft missile
An anti-tank missile
A tactical bombardment missile.
Short-range air to air missile
Long-range air to air missile
Air-to-surface missile

One can only imagine the stunned expression on the faces of the CEFMID committee when they looked at the list and realized what they had let themselves in for. The task seemed appalling and unattainable. Indeed, it appeared as if the entire resources of the Triple Alliance would be inadequate for development programs covering the whole range of requirements. At this point, CEFMID did an inventory of what was available already and came up with some interesting insights.

In Australia, military technology as a fusion of science and industry fell into the province of the DSTO, a descendant of the Advisory Council on Science and Industry set back in 1916 to help the first great unpleasantness. World War Two and the massive industrialization of Australia had also led to equally huge expansion in the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research as it was then, whose role it was to provide basic and applied science and research to underpin industry and agriculture. With wars end the CISR held interests as diverse as cereal development and Chemical Weapons, radio physics, aquaculture, metallurgy and ballistics. Partly due to the new appreciation of Australias defense needs and in conjunction with a greater rationalization program within the civil service, the CISR was subdivided into two new bodies; the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) to handle civilian work, and the Defense Scientific and Technical Organization (DSTO).

The CSIRs role had been to do the fundamental research and initial design before handing over its projects to private companies for further development, after which it took a supporting role both for industry and the customers. The newly formed DSTO operated in the same fashion and took over the CSIRs defense related projects. Amid this inheritance were a number of vaguely missile like programs, mostly centered around guided bombs, they also had a small section dedicated to rocketry left over from supporting the manufacture of Russian aircraft rockets in Australia under TWMAP contracts. These efforts had already come together before in Project Cookoo, an effort to build a rocket boosted guided bomb, that was abandoned when the RAAF bought a large quantity of surplus ex-USAAF VB-13 Barzon 2,000lb guided bombs.


Project Cookoo had been continued under the imaginative name of MSERP the Ministry of Supply Experimental Rocketry Project, the Ministry of Supply being the official sponsors for government contracts at the time. While the CEFMID deliberated, MSERP developed into Malkara a simple (MCLOS) and rather heavy wire-guided heavy anti-tank come tactical bombardment missile. The weight was partially due to Malkaras bulky electronics, but the large missile permitted an equally large payload. To make the most of its effects against concrete as well as steel, the designers chose to use the new High Explosive Squash Head configuration for their fifty-five pound warhead.

Malkaras performance was quite outstanding for its day and its combination of devastating effect and long range were unmatched for many years, alas for all that it was also a failure as a practical weapon. The weight and bulk of the missile needed a substantial vehicle to act as firing post, the guidance system demanded great skill to operate and the cost of such a large missile prohibited extensive practice. Where it did impress both users and the wider defense establishment was the relative ease with which Malkara had been developed, and the destructive power of that big HESH charge. A decent hit could convert any tank of the 40s and 50s into scrap, there arent many modern ones that would shrug it off come to that, and it took no more than five years to go from concept to service approved pre-production.

Those five years proved as fatal to Malkara as they were profitable for other missile projects. By the time Malkara was ready for production, CEFMID and the Missile group within DSTO had moved on, leaving the AT missile to creep into production, service and obsolescence, the last was withdrawn to stores in 1965.


Malkara had proven the DSTOs ability to produce a workable missile at a reasonable cost and a pretty rapid rate of development. It served as a valuable training exercise for the whole business, from DSTO to AWA (the manufacturer) and the defence establishment, but its biggest service was to outline, in stark terms, the need for clear thinking in setting specifications. Malkara failed because its role was confused with its technical attributes, and Australia was in no position to tolerate such waste in the bigger projects ahead.

For a variety of reasons the CEFMID had recommended a short ranged surface to air missile be the next missile developed. Politically such a missile could fill both Army and RAN requirements and so secure joint funding, while on the technical side it was hoped that Malkara could provide a foundation so kill two birds with half a stone.

The idea to use Malkara as a starting point wasnt just a bit of penny pinching, it occurred to a number of people that 55 pounds of high explosive could make a B-36's eyes water not to mention rip any smaller aircraft to shreds. If with the right fuse Malkara had the warhead, why not capitalize on work already done? Perhaps the fact that Malkara was a wire guided, subsonic, semi-glider could have been a hint. The result might have been called MOG, as in Malkara Optically Guided, but the HESH charge and a few elements from the guidance system were about the only Malkara bits left by the end of the initial development phase.

The key element to MOG was that from the outset the whole system had to serve both the RAN and the Army. This wasnt to be a case of one missile with two applications; the entire installation, missile, launcher, radar and director were to be the same for both services. This stemmed from a combination of politics and economic reality, Australia had two services to provide missiles for and could not spare the funds to duplicated efforts. Surprisingly enough the only real problem this cased was in the radar, getting a single set that could cope with the varied ground clutter ashore and still make the best of the open horizons at sea.

The missile that emerged as MOG Mk.1 had little resemblance to Malkara, it weighed about twice as much, sacrificed wings for sharply raked cruciform fins, was almost twice as fast and rode a radio beam rather than trailed wire. A dual function fuse permitted either a proximity setting for use against aircraft or delayed impact for HESH to be preset, and so MOG could, and did, fill the naval and land based short-range air defense and short-range bombardment roles. In its mobile Army form MOG was even tasked with heavy Anti-Tank duties so completing the circle with Malkara, in more ways than one, MOG was even less practical as an AT weapon.

The rest of the system was largely constrained by weight, the RAN intended MOG to replace the 40mm Bofors and so as to be retrofitted to older ships the weight and volume had to be kept to roughly the same limits. A launcher with four MOGs was light enough to replace a standard twin 40mm mount, so too was the director, and both were as easy to bolt down on a concrete slab or the bed of a truck, as the deck of a warship.

With the Army and Navy happy playing with their new toy, the RAAF tried out a modified form of MOG that could be deployed from a Canberra bomber. The warhead, even with the added boost provided by any un-burnt fuel made MOG a very expensive way to drop a very small bomb, but at least the RAAF too had entered the Missile Age. Sometimes form is almost as important as function.

MOG passed though several marks, but quickly evolved into two forms so far as the RAN and Army were concerned, RAAF developments are another story for another time. Like Malkara, MOG filled its specification well enough, and so it should have, the spec in this case had been largely tailored around what the DSTO believed it could deliver. However once in service the cry came for more range. One of the defining aspects of the MOG package was that the complete missile could not weight more than 200 pounds. This was the maximum weight the Navy would accept for reloading by hand in a seaway and naturally MOG Mk.1 weighted a little more than this, but it was close enough. The problem of course being that 200lb, of which some 50 odd were HE, did not leave much room for a bigger motor to increase range.

The solution DSO came up with was adding a booster, again weighing a nominal 200lb, and converting MOG into a two-stage rocket. The problem being that such an arrangement did not allow for the missile to be steered until the unguided booster had burned out and been jettisoned, which in turn imposed a minimum engagement range that was well beyond what the RAN were willing to accept, which meant that the un-boosted MOG had to be retained as well if everybody was to be kept content. This was no great problem once the launchers had been modified to accept MOG in either form, and some minor modifications incorporated into the director system to allow for the unguided phase.

A Brief note on Nomenclature

As there was no individual difference between a MOG on its own, or the MOG sitting on the end of a booster except the booster. The same missile needed only the addition of a booster to fill either role and the launcher could cope with any mix of the two versions on any of its four rails. This added a good deal of flexibility to the system, but it imposed a complexity of its own, how to differentiate between the same missiles on the same launcher with very different capabilities. Thus MOG adopted a split personality to go with its configurations, as the payload MOG was designated as stage 1 and the booster as stage 2. But there were actually five elements that needed to be clearly named, a/ the bare MOG on its own, b/ the booster, c/ MOG as used with the booster, d/ the booster attached to MOG and e/ the combined missile and booster as one unit. Oh and the march of progress had to be allowed for.

To sort this lot out, the powers who do this sort of thing resorted to a mixture of Arabic and Roman numerals with the usual mark designators. Roman numerals refer to the complete assembly as it would launched, I being a bare missile, II and higher being the missile and some configuration of boosters. The Arabic numerals were for the boosters themselves without the missile attached.

This nomenclature was to become entrenched in Australian developed missiles, so its worth remembering. There are three parts to a MISSILE designator, first element is the system name ie MOG. The second is the booster configuration, a roman I being un-boosted, II and higher being different arrangements of boosters. Lastly the third element is a mark descriptor, which comes in two forms, a single Mk.x refers only to the payload missile, a split mark number Mk.x/y covers both payload and booster.

Thus a MOG I Mk.1 is a first production type MOG without a booster, and a MOG II Mk.1/1 is the same Mk.1 MOG on a Mk.1 Booster. The caveat being that the I is usually left off in casual usage unless both types are being discussed, and so a MOG Mk.2 is generally understood to be a MOG I Mk.2 never a MOG II of any mark.

The BOOSTER on the other hand is covered by Arabic numerals, so a MOG 2 Mk.1 is just the first mark of booster without the payload stage fitted.

This system has proven sufficient to the present day, and adaptable to a variety of systems, for example there is a Jabiru I, Jabiru II, Jabiru III and Jabiru IV, and well come to those in a moment. However in these later projects the boosters gained system names of their own, in the case of Jabiru the booster family took the name Bunyip, so Bunyip-1, Bunyip-2 etc are the booster configurations, but assembled and used as a missile, the whole lot takes the name of the payload stage. Jabiru II being Jabiru strapped on the end of a Bunyip-2 booster.

Back to MOG

MOG entered service in 1962 and became an export best seller over the next decade. Progressively improved it remained in production until the mid-1980s, ten years after its successor Falcon had been released. Much of MOGs popularity was due to the same factors that driven its development; light weight, relatively low cost, flexibility and reliability. While not the most accurate of missiles, MOG certainly remained one of the most destructive in its class whenever it did hit, and its accuracy improved dramatically over the years as the Mk numbers climbed.

The original optical director was replaced eventually by the option of either radar control or visual aiming via a TV camera, advances in propellant improved both speed and range for both MOG I and MOG II, modifications were made to the guidance system to reduce its susceptibility to jamming and in general MOG proved to be the old reliable of the first generation naval missile systems there just wasnt that much to go wrong with it.


MOG gave CEFMID the clue it needed to fill out the rest of its wish list. The range of requirements theyd identified could only be met if common solutions were found to a wide range of problems; in other words, if the systems designed had very high degrees of commonality. Again, the seed of inspiration came out of DSTO. The Americans were, obviously, developing air defense systems on the basis they didn't want done to them what they were quite happy to do to others. Given a choice between fighter defenses and ground-base defense, they could afford to developed both. Anti-aircraft guns were ineffective against aircraft in the B-36 class so America had started to look at anti-aircraft missiles. They had come up with a simple yet highly effective guidance system that used two radars, one that tracked the target, the second tracking the intercepting missile. A simple track-extractor was used to make the two tracks converge. This system became known as Nike and the first missile to use it was Ajax. However, it was open knowledge that Nike-Ajax was to be followed by the much more effective Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missile and the Nike-Zeus anti-missile missile.

The beauty of the Nike system was that the missiles using it were simple and inexpensive; everything that cost money was on the ground and reusable. DSTO had been impressed and had designed their own equivalent with one significant exception. Although Ajax had a conventional warhead, it was widely known that both Hercules and Zeus would have nuclear payloads. This was not acceptable to DSTO and they had worked up a design for a relatively small, agile top stage for their anti-ballistic missile that could destroy an inbound missile with a conventional warhead. In the event, it turned out that ballistic missiles were much easier to hit and destroy than anybody had thought but, by that time testing of the new top stage was well underway and had become essential to the wider application of the system.

It became apparent to CEFMID that the DSTO-designed top stage was a perfectly useful missile in its own right. At that point, somebody, somewhere came up with an inspiration. It should be possible, that unknown genius reasoned, to design a modular family of missiles, a series of boosters and payloads, that could be mixed-and-matched to fit most requirements. The first of the payloads was the new DSTO ballistic missile topstage, now named Jabiru. Another was an inert carrier stage called Ikara, an unpowered glider that could carry either a lightweight homing torpedo or a nuclear depth charge. A third payload, Brolga, also carried the nuclear depth charge but configured as a reentry vehicle and fused for surface or above-surface initiation. The boosters, called Bunyip were solid fueled, like all Australian service rockets to that date, and came in three sizes, each twice the length of the predecessor.

The shortest Bunyip-1 was intended to replace the MOG-2 booster but it proved too unwieldy. The medium-length Bunyip-2 booster was mated with Jabiru to give the long-range anti-aircraft Jabiru II missile or with the torpedo/depth charge glider to give the Ikara II anti-submarine/anti-ship missile. The long booster Bunyip-3 was clustered into a pack of four (the same solution used by the Americans for Hercules) and was the first stage for the Jabiru III anti-missile missile. The long booster (used singly) with the nuclear reentry vehicle became the Brolga III short-range ballistic missile while the use of a four-pack gave the Brolga IV medium range ballistic missile. Some work was done in the early 1970s on fitting the Jabiru II (Jabiru on a Bunyip-2) on top of the four pack of Bunyip-3 boosters to produce Jabiru IV as an anti-satellite weapon, but the whole idea literally collapsed under its own weight, or it would have if assembled.

The key to the whole system was a simple six-inch long cylinder called the interstage. All that had to be done was to select the correct interstage to link any given payload with any given booster and the components could be mixed-and-matched to fill any requirement. If CEFMID had been stunned by the size of the task before them, the simplicity and elegance of the solution they had found must have left them poleaxed. In effect, they had filled all of the outstanding operational requirements with just two weapons, MOG and the new modular missile family.

It was, of course, too good to be true. At first everything went well; the land-based variants of the Jabiru family raced ahead. Serious work started in 1954 and the booster shots were carried out two years later. There were minor problems with the longer members of the family flexing in flight but a reinforced casing solved that. The four-pack booster unit was test flown in 1957. This was followed by the first experimental shots of the Jabiru top stage in 1958. The same year, the medium length Bunyip-2 booster was mated with the glider upper stage and test-fired. The glider proved to have stability problems that took some time to clear up and further difficulties were experienced with booster/glider separation but these were solved expeditiously and the Ikara system was cleared for service in 1961. The basically similar Brolga III and Brolga IV followed the next year. The same problems of booster/payload separation affected the land-based version of Jabiru II and proved less tractable. Still, by 1963 the land-based version of Jabiru I was in service, followed by Jabiru III in 1964 and Jabiru II in 1965.

It was the naval version of Jabiru that was to cause the problems, and the trouble was that delightfully simple command guidance system. As it had been designed for land applications and used two large, heavy and complex radars plus an equally complex plot extractor, it was a very good, very effective system for land-based applications where weight, space and power consumption were not at a premium. By 1958 and the initial Jabiru test-flights, it was obvious that this system was simply not as suitable for naval deployment as had been initially thought. A reasonable armament was simply not going to fit on a hull of acceptable size. It should be noted that the Americans ran into the same problem about the same time and eventually came to the same solution their system, called Typhon , was scrapped due to its excessive size and weight. Only twenty years later, when AEGIS joined the US fleet, would micro-electronics have solved the problem.

This wasnt an option for Australia who had too much invested in Jabiru to turn back and so a lighter guidance system was required, but one that would not drastically change the Jabiru missile. An initial investigation was made of the use of beam-riding technology, which was fairly well established from the MOG program. This would use a single, conically-scanned radar to generate a pencil beam designating the target, and the missile would then be fired into the beam, be captured by it and would fly up the beam into the target. In effect, it was a simplified and lightweight version of command guidance. It had many problems however, not the least being that the missile had to be fired into the tracking beam; if it was not captured by that beam, it would go ballistic and crash into the sea. Another was that, unlike command guidance, beam riding used fuel very inefficiently, which might have been acceptable for a short ranged weapon like MOG but it would reduce the range of the Jabiru by half, making it barely superior to MOG II. The final straw being the ease with which beam-riding technology could be jammed using some very simple techniques.

The US Navy had encountered similar problems, finding their early model beam-riding Tartar and Terrier missiles were virtually ineffective and their solution was to switch to semi-active radar homing where the missile homes in on radar energy reflected from the target. This was effective enough but put a lot of the control apparatus into the missile and resulted in a lot more money being fired down range with every shot. Adapting the Jabiru missile to this technology would dramatically increase the price of the system and surrender all pretence of commonality. In effect, a semi-active radar homing Jabiru would be an entirely new and costly - missile.

At this point, the naval version of the Jabiru system was teetering on the verge of cancellation, a decision that could very well take down the rest of the family. The Indian Navy was severely concerned by this situation since they had selected the Jabiru system as the primary air defense weapon of their fleet. It was the Indians who were to solve the problem. For reasons nobody has been able to properly explain, India has produced generations of highly competent and capable mathematicians and plot extraction is essentially a mathematical problem. When designing the Sindhu class destroyers, the Indians had put a large air search radar amidships but had only a single masthead position for the air and surface target designation radars. The Indian solution was to mount the two radars back-to-back and develop mathematical algorithms to handle the plot extraction from the two radars. They applied this concept to the Jabiru missile, mounting the target tracking and missile tracking radars back to back and using mathematical algorithms to integrate the two for missile guidance. This was the Indra Missile Guidance Complex (Indra-MGC)

The beauty of this system was that it was light weight, had limited ship impact, used the standard, command-guided Jabiru system and obtained the full range of the weapon. Because Indra was a scanning system, it could switch from one target to another quickly, allowing a high rate of engagement although, like all command systems, it could only handle one target at a time. Unfortunately as it was a scanning system the two back-to-back radars generated a relatively low data rate. This meant that they could not cope with very rapid changes in bearing and so was limited to targets approaching (or retreating from) the launch platform. As Indra could not track crossing targets, a ship so equipped had only a long-range self defense capability but was not very effective at screening other ships.

To deal with this problem, the Indian Navy developed a second radar complex in parallel with Indra, that they called Rashmi. This was a group of four radars, two target trackers and two missile trackers, integrated into a single unit. The mathematics of plot extraction took some time to sort out but, by the end, they achieved excellent results. Because it was a tracking, rather than a scanning system, it generated a high data rate and could thus cope with high rates of change in bearing. Which in turn meant a Rashmi fire control system combined with the Jabiru missile could engage crossing targets and screen other ships properly.

At this point, the Indian Navy went to the Australians with a blunt offer. The Indians would continue with their plans to purchase the Jabiru, Ikara and MOG missiles but only if the Australians purchased the Indra and Rashmi guidance systems. Otherwise, they would approach the Americans for Tartar and Terrier missiles. There was a strong element of bluff in this demand; Terrier and Tartar themselves were hardly problem-free and both had evolved into semi-active homing missiles that were expensive to use. It was a bluff, though, that the Australians were happy to accept; Rashmi and Indra solved their problems neatly and opposition to buying foreign radars could be overcome by pointing to the major export orders that would be achieved.

And so it was that the naval version of the modular missile family came to combine an Indian radar fire control system. The first ships to use the Indra missile guidance complex were the Project 22 Nilgiri class and the Australian Town class frigates while the lead ships for the Rashmi complex were the Indian Project 21 Godavari class destroyers. By 1966, systems integration had been completed and the Jabiru naval missile was formally declared operational.

Jumping ahead a little, the Australians preferred the Indra system to Rashmi for a number of reasons. Rashmi's weight imposed a lot of penalties on ship design and it had to be physically trained along the threat bearing, making switching between different threat axes difficult. This reflected a growing difference in perceptions between the Australian and Indian navies. The Indians were already thinking in terms of fleet engagements between task forces and assumed these would involve heavy attacks coming down a defined axis. The Australians were looking more to the demands of patrolling and protecting their far-flung Pacific protectorates. This exposed the RANs ships to more limited attacks but ones that could emerge unexpectedly and from multiple directions. For that environment, Indra was more suitable.

Ironically, despite the fact that Rashmi was originally seen as the more advanced and capable system, it was Indra that had the greater potential for development. By the late 1970s, track-while-scan technology was being introduced on a large scale and it didn't take very long for the Indians to include this with the Indra missile guidance complex. The plot extraction problem was complex but solvable and advancing computer technology meant that multiple intercepts could be calculated at once. Simple tag-coding allowed the basic system to control several missiles at once. Then, the development of planar arrays effectively solved the data rate problem. Eventually, an advanced Indra, called Shakira, was introduced that used two back-to-back track-while-scan planar array radars. This combined the functions of Rashmi and Indra and replaced them both.

With the service introduction of the Modular Missile family, the realities of the system became apparent. It had originally been envisaged that ships would carry a selection of payloads, boosters and interstages and effectively assemble the weapons they needed when they needed them. This quickly folded under the realities of service life. All of the Jabiru platforms quickly started carrying a mix of pre-assembled missiles. The Australian Towns with their 24-round magazines, typically carried 16 Ikaras and eight Jabiru I while the Indian Nilgiris with their 36-round magazine carried 16 Ikaras but 20 Jabiru I missiles. The big Godavari class destroyers had two 48-round magazines, the aft one carrying all Jabiru I missiles, the forward magazine armed with 32 Jabiru I and 16 Ikara.

In theory at least, it was possible for any of these ships to remove an Ikara round from its booster, change the interstage and place a Jabiru I on that booster to produce a Jabiru II. In practice, it wasn't so easy. Jabiru was about 100 inches long; loading it vertically required a two-deck penetration. This was acceptable and was pretty much routine. However, the Number 2 booster was also 100 inches long and, together with the interstage, was 206 inches long, requiring a four-deck penetration. This most definitely was not acceptable; the structural consequences would have been horrible to contemplate. The only way the conversion from Jabiru-1 to Jabiru-2 could be done using vertical loading was to run the Jabiru-1 onto the launch rail, then rotate the carousel feed under the deck and elevate the booster/interface unit up under the Jabiru. Then, the two units would be manually connected on the launch rail, after which the complete missile would be elevated to its final firing position. It could be done; in fact Godavari did it on trials and the class was considered Jabiru-II capable as a result, but it was something of a statistical deceit. The rate of fire was around two Jabiru-2s per rail per hour. Typically, a Godavari going into action would have one or more Jabiru-2s loaded onto her rails before the action. Once they were fired, the ship was down to Jabiru-1s only. It took until the 1980s when vertical launch system silos became available for vertical stowage of the Jabiru-2 missiles to become feasible. Until then, ships that required anything more than a nominal Jabiru-2 capability had to have horizontal loading for the missiles.

Another advantage of the Modular Missile Family was the ease with which it could be updated. Developments in rocket propellant and electronics design caused a rapid improvement in the performance of all members of the family. Jabiru nearly doubled in range during the first decade of its service. Ikara gained an elementary radio control unit for its glider that eliminated some of the need for careful pre-launch training and allowed the development of a simple box launcher. Even when Jabiru itself was replaced by Eagle at the end of the 1980s, the differences were evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Eagle was faster, much longer-ranged and had a terminal active radar homing system yet for all that, its Jabiru ancestry was immediately obvious.

So how good was Jabiru? Most analysts believe that it was, overall, about comparable with the American Tartar and Terrier systems at any given time although the rapid developments in both families made this balance a transitory thing. Both suffered similar problems, both had much the same limitations. Tartar and Terrier had semi-active radar homing systems that made them more accurate but much more expensive. The simple Jabiru missile cost much less and, because it's electronics occupied less volume, it had a larger warhead that offset its lesser accuracy. The Indra guidance complex was less weighty and expensive than the American equivalents but also less flexible; Rashmi was more capable than its American equivalents but also more complex and expensive. Of course, the American ships had different missiles for different functions; their ASROC had no commonality at all with Tarter and Terrier while the later Harpoon anti-ship missile was different again.

Outside the U.S. Navy, Jabiru had few rivals. The British Seaslug was only very marginally useful and was never really an effective weapon. By the time Sea Dart arrived, its development period had taken so long it had fallen behind the curve of development and spent its time playing catch-up. The French Masurca missile never got beyond the beam-riding stage and was virtually ineffective (there is considerable doubt as to whether a live Masurca warshot was ever carried out). The key player was, of course, Chipan and its systems. These were the primary threats that Jabiru was intended to counter. The Chipanese systems had an idiosyncratic loading system that speeded rate of fire but reduced magazine capacity. Jabiru was consistently longer-ranged than its Chipanese equivalents but the Chipanese missiles had greater resistance to electronic countermeasures. On the other hand, Jabiru was much less susceptible to being decoyed. At the Pescadores, both sets of missiles proved capable of performing their designed functions and, in the final analysis, that's what counted.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License