Anduril Delivers First Giant Uncrewed Submarine to Australian Navy

Image credit by Anduril Industries Media

Anduril has delivered its first prototype, the Ghost Shark Extra-Large Autonomous Undersea Vehicle (XL-AUV), to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) a year ahead of schedule and on budget. The other three will be followed next year.

Ghost Shark is developed and funded by a partnership between Defence and Anduril Australia under a development contract worth A$140 million ($90.1 million). Ten Australian companies have partnered with Anduril Australia to manufacture Ghost Shark and 42 Australian companies have stood to benefit in the supply chain as the XL-UAV is an entirely homegrown affair for Australia.

The increasing importance of the Indo-Pacific region, saber-rattling by China, and North Korea taking missile potshots over Japan have led the Australian defense to increasingly invest in the defense sector. Ghost Shark is described as “Mission Zero” for the government’s Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA) supposed to take three years to create the first prototype but is ahead of schedule.

Also, it is a part of the Australian government’s prioritization of naval systems to develop autonomous platforms that can act as force multipliers. Instead of just sending out submarine patrols, autonomous drones can operate for long durations without a crew to increase the capabilities of the patrols, helping save costs and forces.

Once deployed, Ghost Shark will allow the Navy to carry out stealthy, long-range autonomous undersea warfare capability in the conduction of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike. In addition, it will also enhance the Navy’s ability to operate with allies and partners such as the U.S. and Britain.

The XL-AUV can run autonomously underwater for up to ten days and reach depths of around 19,685 feet (6,000 meters). Unlike traditional submarines, Ghost Shark can be entirely flooded during operation.

On the other hand, Ghost Shark may have come as a shock to some American observers when the process contrasts with the Boeing/U.S Navy Orca XLUUV program, already $242 million over budget and 3 years delayed.

Currently, the Australian Government also grants more than $10 billion for the development of autonomous and uncrewed systems, including armed systems to provide the ADF with the capabilities to meet circumstances.

Ashton Henning

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