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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Anduril’s Latest Drive: Tech-Heavy Army Tanks

Costa Mesa-based Anduril Industries is part of a team that includes defense heavyweights American Rheinmetall Vehicles and Raytheon Technologies that’s moved a step closer to creating the U.S. Army’s tank of the future.

The team including Anduril has won a contract to develop and build prototypes of the XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle, in a two-way competition pitting it against a rival group led by General Dynamics Land Systems.

The Army is set to choose between the two competitors and award the final contract in 2027.

Reports indicate the vehicles’ total program cost is estimated at $45 billion; the total number of vehicles to be built for the Army has not been disclosed.

The XM30 program is designed to replace the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, the tank-like vehicles that have been in service for more than 40 years.

The XM30 will be the Army’s first ground combat vehicle designed using modern, digital engineering tools and techniques. It will also be the Army’s first armored combat vehicle powered by a hybrid-electric engine, according to reports.

Prototypes Planned

Tech-focused defense, surveillance and military contractor Anduril, founded by OC entrepreneur Palmer Luckey in 2017, said in a blog posting on July 25 that the contract is to “produce a detailed design and prototype” for the Army vehicles in what are called Phase 3 and Phase 4.

The Army said the total award value for the American Rheinmetall and General Dynamics prototype contracts is approximately $1.6 billion. Rheinmetall is based in Sterling Heights, Mich.

There was no word on how much money would go to Anduril for its work on the current two phases of the project.

Enabling Soldiers

Anduril will provide the high-tech electronics that will let the two soldiers inside the vehicle know what’s going on the battlefield outside.

That means artificial intelligence, ‘mission autonomy’ and sensor integration to “optimize how and when data and information is presented to the vehicle crew.”

The Army said it expects, after selecting a winning vendor for the program in 2027, to have the “first unit equipped” in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2029.

Anduril joined the Rheinmetall consortium known as Team Lynx last September.

The XM30 will allow new, developing technology to be added to the vehicle as technology develops.

“We look forward to delivering our solution to the Army in the next phases of the program,” said Zach Mears, the Anduril head of strategy, in the late July blog posting.

In September, when Anduril announced it had joined the Rheinmetall team, Mears said: “Software is at the core of the weapons and military systems of the future.”

He added: “Anduril specializes in delivering advanced mission autonomy, enabling commanders and battle managers to command and control more lethal capability at the tactical edge.”

The XM30, Mears predicted, will “dominate future battlefields.”

Other Team Lynx members are Textron Systems, L3Harris Technologies (NYSE: LHX) and Allison Transmission.

Marines, Rockets

Anduril, also known for its high-tech border protection systems, keeps making inroads into the military world.

The company said July 28 that it and electronics counter-attack company Epirus of Torrance had recently combined software integration to support U.S. Marine Corps defenses against swarms of enemy drones. Drones have been playing an increasing role in warfare, as shown by the fighting in Ukraine.

Anduril’s Lattice target detection and monitoring system built on artificial intelligence, will play a key role in operating Epirus’ Leonidas, a high-power microwave weapon that neutralizes swarms of drones.

The Leonidas system uses energy blasts to disable enemy electronics aboard hostile drones. It can be used to target a single object or to shield an entire area.

Lattice is one of Anduril’s main systems, using artificial intelligence for applications including border security and defense against hostile drones.

In a separate move, Anduril announced in July that it’s aiming to make thousands of propulsion systems for powerful military missiles each year with its purchase of Indiana-based rocket engine manufacturer Adranos.

At the end of 2022, Anduril raised nearly $1.5 billion in a Series E funding round, with plans to enter into new technology markets through acquisitions. It had raised a total of well over $2 billion as of December.

Its valuation at the time was estimated around $8.5 billion. It is the fastest a privately-held company based in Orange County has ever reached such a valuation.

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