AUSA 2022 — Anduril Industries plans to unveil a pair of loitering munitions at the upcoming Association of the United States Army conference, in what a company executive told Breaking Defense is just the start of the tech firm’s foray into weapons programs.
“For Anduril, this is the first weapon that we are talking about developing,” Chris Brose, chief strategy officer at Anduril, said in an exclusive interview ahead of the announcement. “It is not the only weapon that we are developing, and it is definitely not the last weapon that we are going to develop.”
Brose declined to disclose more about the other programs, but Anduril’s new loitering munitions are modified versions of its autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle, the Altius 600 and 700. Those two platforms are small drones, that can be launched from air, land or sea and can carry intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) or electronic warfare payloads.
Brose claimed that Anduril’s loitering munition offerings will have “twice the range and endurance of what’s currently best of breed” in the loitering munitions market.
There’s “really a desire to have greater range, greater endurance, greater time on station,” Brose said. “Particularly as you start looking at theaters like [the Indo-Pacific], where the geography is just so vast, that really matters.”
Anduril’s website provides some insight into the endurance and range of the Altius platforms when used as air-launched effects. It says the Altius 600 has a range up to 276 miles with four hours of endurance, while the larger Altius 700 can fly 310 miles with more than two hours endurance.
Brose also declined to go into the specific details of the loitering munitions’ capabilities. But as loitering munitions, he said the Altius 700 will fly “less far” than the 600, but carry a larger explosive payload. He said the Altius 700 had demonstrated a 35-pound warhead.
Brose told Breaking Defense that the company has been working with “government customers” over the past year, but declined to name them. He added that the loitering munitions were geared toward a “handful of very specific missions,” but declined to share which.
Over the next year, he said the company is focused on developing the systems to meet the immediate needs of their customers, but added that “there are a lot of other missions that these systems are going to be really effective and conducting.”
“This will be a large and growing family of systems that we intend to add to in the years to come,” Brose said.
He said that the company began exploring entering the loitering munitions market after acquiring drone-marker Area-I, which makes the Altius drones, in March last year. Brose stressed in the interview that the loitering munitions built by Anduril will be designed with open systems, meaning they can be easily upgraded with, for example, a more advanced seeker or warhead in the future.
“As we’ve been engaging with customers, as we’ve seen problems that they’ve been encountering, and the world has been throwing up, it’s become very clear that a more capable loitering munition is something that’s desperately needed,” Brose said.