This Video of Anduril’s New Loitering Weapon Is Effectively Stark

Anduril’s latest ALTIUS-700M loitering munition variant can haul up to a 33 pound munition with high … [+] destructive power.

Anduril

Anduril Industries has issued a press release showing its new Altius 700M loitering munition hitting a mockup target in a September test. The video is intimidating.

The point of the release and the footage is to highlight a successful test of the newest variant of Anduril’s Altius family (600/600M, 700/700M) of air-launched weapons. Last September the 700M scored six direct hits across six missions in a live-fire test at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah according to Anduril.

The California-based company released footage of the drone striking a mock Russian SA-17 surface to air missile launcher vehicle with a live warhead during the Dugway tests. Anduril did not offer details of the warhead but its effect on the tracked vehicle and the planform of the Altius 700M in flight make for shivers for anyone familiar with being under live fire.

“If you were an adversary, it’s something I don’t think you would want to see flying overhead,” Anduril spokesman, Jackson Lingane, agrees. The straight-wing planform of the Altius in flight is purely functional but its “flying cross” configuration recalls the much larger Predator drone as well as the many small UAVs now seen over the battlefields of Ukraine and even the A-10 Warthog.

The September live-fire testing was the first full test of the 700M from launch to striking the target. Anduril claims up to 100 miles of range and 75 minutes of flight time for the Altius 700M, characterizing its range and payload as “class-leading”.

The video shows the Altius being launched from a ground vehicle, suggesting (along with the Dugway location) that the Army may be the first customer for the weapon. Anduril’s spokesman confirmed that the company has a customer for the 700M but declined to identify it. However, he did say that there are multiple ongoing efforts for the Altius family system.

The Army’s Project Manager, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS) is interested in acquiring the non-munitions variant of the Altius (Altius 700) according to Anduril. That interest may jive with Army air-launched tests of the Altius 700 in December using a UH-60 Blackhawk.

An additional Army demonstration of the 700 (which Anduril refers to as an intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting or IRS&T variant) is slated for the end of fiscal 2024 and a fielding decision for the drone is scheduled in 2025 according to the Army.

A longer video of Altius munitions tests on Anduril’s website shows them tube-launched launched from a MRZR light infantry vehicle and UH-60. The company says the munitions have also been launched from other platforms including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), AC-130J Hercules and Kratos’ XQ-58A Valkyrie autonomous drone.

The 700M is the dedicated anti-armor variant. Anduril says it offers munition payload capacity comparable to an AGM-114 Hellfire missile. The release affirms that, “With significant payload mass, high terminal velocity, and optional delayed fuze payload configurations, 700M can easily penetrate target walls to deliver maximum effect on armored targets.”

It appears to do so in the video shot at Dugway and it’s possible there are videos of Altius 600 munitions striking targets in Ukraine. The U.S. has provided the earlier variant of Anduril’s loitering drone to Ukraine as confirmed in this fact sheet on U.S. security assistance from October 2023.

A screengrab from Anduril’s video footage of the Altius 700M milliseconds before impacting a mockup … [+] of an armored Russian SA-17 Grizzly surface to air (SAM) launch vehicle.

Anduril

Anduril says it has invested over $60 million into a new 180,000 square foot production facility in Atlanta, Georgia to scale manufacturing of Altius. In 2021, the company acquired Georgia-based air launched drone maker, Area-I. According to Anduril’s spokesman the Altius production facility is not the former Area-I facility which was in Marietta, GA.

While the Army is the most likely the launch customer for the 700M, it’s not clear when it might field the loitering munition. However, the Dugway tests indicate it is at a fairly high level of maturity. Anduril’s Lingane would not confirm additional 700M testing this year though it would make sense. He calls the Dugway tests an “important validation of our approach and ability to build a real, all-up round with a Hellfire-sized warhead.”

The test shows that the Altius is “extremely accurate across several different missions” as well according to Anduril. The company provided no information on cost. Given the rapidity with which effective countermeasures against small drones are being developed in Ukraine, the 700M would do well nor only to be cheap enough to acquire en masse but to quickly, inexpensively update.

A real battlefield environment is different of course but if the company’s video is any indication, the Altius 700M could be a highly desirable, intimidating weapon.

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