As the submarine “gap” between China’s military and Australia’s widens, a company named “Anduril” will build the first 30-meter-long underwater “killer” drone next year as a deterrent against Chinese aggression, according to The Guardian.
Australia’s defenses are in a precarious situation as a replacement submarine project’s disastrous failure will leave waters around the US-friendly country in the Indo-Pacific region vulnerable. But that’s where Anduril plugs the sub-gap by building the country’s “iPhone” of artificial-intelligence-controlled killer robots until the replacement nuclear sub fleet is operational by the late 2030s.
The extra-large autonomous undersea vehicles (XLAUVs) can dive 6,000 meters while conducting intelligence gathering, reconnaissance, and surveillance operations. XLAUVs can carry various payloads, including sensors, scanners, and weapons.
Anduril founder Palmer Luckey, a tech entrepreneur who sold Oculus Rift to Facebook in 2014, has a $100 million deal with the Australian Navy to deliver three prototype XLAUVs in three years.
A big step forward for Navy’s undersea capability. #AusNavy and @DefenceScience have entered into a contract with Anduril Australia, to design and manufacture Extra Large Autonomous Underwater Vehicles in Australia. #DefenceIndustry pic.twitter.com/S3GJX0P3QM
— Royal Australian Navy (@Australian_Navy) May 7, 2022
The new killer robot subs will accelerate Australia’s looming submarine capability gap as the aging Collins-class fleet is phased out amid threats of Chinese aggression.
“Undersea vehicles will be a really important part of deterring aggression,” he told The Guardian.
Questioned about robo-subs plugging the capability gap, Luckey said:
“That’s one of the reasons we’re pulling the timing in. When you’re talking about a gap, we can help mitigate the problem but we’re not going to fix the problem.”
He noted that crewed subs will always be needed, though robo-subs will revolutionize the modern battlefield.