Australian Navy To Build 3 Extra-Large Drone Submarines
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is going big in the uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) game. The Australian Department of Defence is joining with American company Anduril to develop an XLAUV.
Anduril graphic of the XLAUV.
XLAUV stands for Extra-Large Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. The term is simply an alternative term for the XLUUV label used by U.S. Navy and Royal Navy. But will make it simple to refer to the Australian project.
The RAN will build 3 prototype XLAUVs in the AUD $100,000,000 program. The project will run 3 years. Whether the U.S. join-up is part of the Australia-UK-US ('AUKUS') partnership is unclear, but it is aligned in spirit for sure. Despite the importation of American technology, it is seen as establishing Australia's sovereign XLAUV fleet.
Anduril is a less well known, but significant, player in the UUV arena. They already have a large-displacement UUV design in the water, the Dive-LD. The XLAUV appears to be a stretched version of this. The Dive-LD is 5.8 m (19 ft) long, 1.2 m (4 ft) in diameter and weighs 2,720 kg (6,000 lbs) dry. Its speed is modest, between 2-7 knots but range is already a strength at 313 nautical miles.
Anduril is a leader at the application of 3D printing. The Dive-LD uses 3D printed parts including the outer hull. This implies that the XLAUV will be a more flexible platform. Anduril say "Unique 3D printed exterior and novel manufacturing processes for core internal structure components and buoyancy inside the vehicle enable rapidly customizable AUVs at a fraction of the cost."
Anduril already use 3D printing in construction of the DIVE-LD underwater drone.