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A Drone Militaries Can Use to Seek and Destroy or Seek and Return

To Loiter or Not to Loiter, That Is the Munitions Question of the Day

Roadrunner attack drone sitting in foreground against a dusky landscape.
Counterintuitively named, the Roadrunner drone is 5 ½’ feet (approximately 1.7 meters) tall. [Image copyright and courtesy of Anduril Industries.)

Costa Mesa, California-based Anduril Industries has literally and figuratively launched its boomerang drone bomb. Equipped with an autonomous, artificial intelligence (AI) “brain,” the Roadrunner UAV is capable of taking down a moving target midair and destroying itself on impact. Should the mission not achieve its objective, Roadrunner will turn itself around and land itself nose-up on pop-out landing struts.

Anduril’s chief strategy officer, Christian Brose, said Roadrunner was conceived as a cost-effective means that the U.S. military and its allies could use to terminate hostile threats approaching from the skies above.

“A few years ago, what we saw coming was a new class of threats,” Brose told the Los Angeles Times, referring to drone swarms.

Yes, similar surface-to-air missile (SAM) weapons, such as the Patriot Missile, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing, have been in service since 1976, but at a domestic cost of US$4 million for a single missile and upward of US$1 billion for a battery of missile. Without going into specifics, Brose cites a range in the “low six figures” for a Roadrunner.

Running their own maintenance checks, the Roadrunners can be reliably stored for months in their storage container, which the company calls a Nest, ensuring they are flight-ready until duty calls.

The self-destroying Roadrunner can be fitted with a warhead, a camera and other sensors, a modular approach buyers can use to adapt the drones to their specific needs.

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Nanci Mora