The Jindivik is a large subsonic drone developed originally by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) and transferred to Short’s Aircraft Ltd when CAC was amalgamated into Alliance Aviation in 1960.
The Jindivik was developed at the Government Aeronautical Research Laboratory (ARL) at Fisherman’s Bend Melbourne Australia, and built by CAC at their factory next door. Evolved from the ARL J-1, a small experimental glider CAC built to explore the aerodynamics of high speed jet aircraft in 1946-7, through the powered ARL/CAC Pika proof of concept aircraft which flew in 1949. The forth Pika prototype was set aside for AWA Ltd to reconfigure for remote controlled flight and the Jindivik Mk.1P flew from the Woomera Test range in 1950.
While most communally used as a drone for sensor calibration, target work and reconnaissance, the Jindivik, an aboriginal word meaning ‘the hunted one’ was intended to fill a number of roles in Australian service, most of them rather more active than radar calibration. In the late 40’s Australia lacked the power-plant technology to build high performance fighters and bombers capable of dealing with the emerging threat for high altitude bombers or getting though first class (jet) fighter defences. But the country did posses a very respectable electronics sector and Jindivik was intended to leverage this to overcome the shortfall in thrust. By eliminating the pilot and any crew, the low thrust engines available could produce sufficient performance in a small efficient aircraft to (hopefully) do the job.
The original specification called for an aerodynamic performance of better then 500mph at 60,000’, which the J-I Mk.3 achieved in 1954, and so the capability of reaching a B-36 with a useful margin to achieve an intercept. In lieu of a nuclear warhead, another technology Australia did not have at the time, the plan was for a suicide intercept under ground control with a radio-proximity fuse firing a 200lb HE charge. It was also hoped to provide airborne control to use the Jindivik as a ‘Flying Torpedo’ against ships as well as aircraft. As it happens this Naval role did not eventuate, but several coastal radar stations were equipped for Jindivik control to provide some coastal coverage. The extent of the Jindivik’s deployment as an interceptor is presently unknown, but the ‘Jindivik Set’ architecture was built into the ADGA (Air Defence Greater Australia) Environment and provided the basis for integration with the Jabriu AD missile system. Unfortunately there is just no means short of official records (which remain classified) to work out exact numbers, as any Jindivik could be reconfigured from drone to interceptor in less than a hour, including pre-flight checks. However it is safe to assume several hundred of the early Jindivik series were at one time or another allocated to air defence.
It is believed this ability is present to this day at least in theory, as the Jindivik/Jabiru/Eagle control systems are still used to run Jindivik drones and can provide the intercept guidance, while the Jindivik itself retains the same multi-function bay and interface used for the warhead. There is even some suggestion of a nuclear capability, as the Jindivik was used as a trials horse for the Jabiru/Ikara system and may retain compatibility with the SW.10 device. However the utility of a subsonic carrier/interceptor in this modern age is dubious and the warlike potential of the Jindivik is most probably latent at best.
A92 Jindivik Mk.3
Powerplant – X
Wing Span (with camera pods and wing extensions) - 7.92 m (26 ft 6 in)
Length - 7.11 m (23 ft 4 in)
Height (on launching trolley) - 2.59 m (8 ft 6 in).
Weight (Empty) - 1315 kg (2900 lb)
Weight (Loaded) - 1656 kg (3650 lb)
Max Speed - 908 km/h (490 kt)
Limiting Mach No 0.86
Ceiling 63,000 ft (19 200 m)
Range 1000 km (540 nm).