Anduril Industries revealed, on December 1, its Roadrunner family of vertical takeoff-and-landing unmanned aerial vehicles.
The six foot-long Roadrunner is designed with a modular payload system facilitating reconfiguration for varying missions. The Group 3 drone uses twin thrust-vectored turbojet engines to reach what the California-based company calls “high subsonic” speeds and “extreme” maneuverability, with the engines designed and manufactured in-house by Anduril.
Announced alongside the Roadrunner is the Roadrunner-M, which carries explosive warheads to intercept unmanned aerial vehicles. The company says that the warheads can be safely recovered alongside the Roadrunner-M should an interception ultimately not be carried out, allowing for cost savings compared to conventional air defense missiles.
The company claims that the Roadrunner-M is designed to “address threats that extend across legacy air defense echelons, combating adversary attempts to design around gaps in current air defense architectures”.
This appears to be a reference to Russia’s heavy use of unmanned aerial vehicles like the Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone, the Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone and smaller quadcopters in its invasion of Ukraine, as well as Ukraine’s heavy use of first-person view controlled drones as anti-vehicle weapons. Use of these drones has accelerated interest in the development and procurement of counter-drone systems that can physically shoot down drones instead of jamming them. One such system is Fortem Technologies’ DroneHunter, which has already conducted operational intercepts of Russian drones in Ukraine.
Anduril claims that a single operator can launch “multiple squadrons” of Roadrunner or Roadrunner-M drones, with the Roadrunner-M ready for integration with Lattice, Anduril’s “AI-powered” command and control software suite. The Roadrunner also has an open architecture facilitating interoperability with air defense systems already in use with potential clients.
In response to skeptics on X, the social media network formerly known as Twitter, Anduril founder and chief executive officer Palmer Luckey has said the following:
Anduril adds that the Roadrunner family is “ready to deploy today”, with company executives claiming that its current “low six figures” cost will drop as production ramps up in response to orders.