Anduril has debuted the Ghost Shark extra-large autonomous underwater vehicle (XL-AUV).

Anduril originally began commercial negotiations with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to indigenously manufacture and deliver three XL-AUVs, in Australia, within three years back in May 2022.

This established a co-development contract, currently worth A$140m ($90.1m), between Anduril, RAN, the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA) and the Defence Science Technology Group.

Ghost Shark is is optimised to carry different payloads to support different military as well as non-military missions including advanced intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance, infrastructure inspection and targeting.

It is a modular, multi-purpose capability that can flexibly respond to the Australian Defence Force’s mission requirements, creating an agile force multiplier Anduril stated in an announcement on 17 April 2024.

This first Ghost Shark prototype was assembled by an engineering team of 121 people from across 42 different Australian companies.

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Speeding up delivery

Pat Conroy, Australia’s Defence Minister, was quick to point out that Anduril’s success stemmed from a change in operations:

“Ghost Shark is an exemplar of how Defence and Australian industry can move at speed to develop new sovereign capabilities to respond to the challenges before us.

“By transitioning Ghost Shark to ASCA, a clear statement is being made about Defence’s commitment to the programme […] ASCA is focused on speeding up the transition of innovation into capability that will give our ADF an edge, while creating more jobs for Australians commercialising the technology.”

The success of this programme so far indicates a positive defence industrial turn. Should the team continue to deliver on its ambitious task to produce three platforms in the space of three years, this will bode well for RAN’s even more ambitious surface combatant programme, which it increased by A$11.5bn at the end of February 2024.