Monday 18 Oct 2021 | 09:14 | SYDNEY
Monday 18 Oct 2021 | 09:14 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Aussie drones


Sam Roggeveen


30 March 2010 14:53

Alan Wrigley writes:

The piece on the continuing life of the U2 spy aircraft in your Monday Linkage took my mind back to my first career as an aeronautical engineer. 

Around the late 1960s (I'd need to do some work to fix it any better) I was the design engineer responsible for developments to the Jindivik remotely controlled aircraft, then being used as a  target in the testing of British ground-to-air missiles at Woomera. We at the then Government Aircraft Factories were asked to increase the maximum altitude that the Jindivik could fly at to test planned new missile variants.

By a number of improvements to the engine and the aerodynamics of the aircraft, we were able to demonstrate flights to over 68,000 feet, which I believe matches the performance of the U2 even today. Given the major part 'drones' are playing in the conduct of the Afghanistan conflict and elsewhere it is sad that this was one of a number of opportunities that was lost to an Australian industry that successive governments — and industry leaders — never knew what to do with and never valued for its world-class developments in specialised niches.

Photo courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy.