The ALTIUS family of loitering munitions, developed by Area-I/Anduril, operate using the ALTIUS platform, which is described by Anduril as ‘an open system capable of integrating with a variety of flight control software. It is capable of autonomous teaming solutions, allowing individual unmanned systems to collaborate and share data with each other to achieve mission objectives that would be impossible via a single unit.’
The ALTIUS-600M is described as having ‘best in class range, payload, and endurance’, and ‘launches from a variety of platforms and altitudes, providing increased capabilities to any mothership.’ The ALTIUS-700M, designed ‘for advanced and heavier payloads’, is ‘capable of carrying warheads as heavy as thirty-five pounds.’ Both systems are ‘designed to be flexible and adaptable and can accommodate multiple seeker and warhead options’. They are intended for ‘expeditionary deployment by air, mobile, ground, or maritime forces, giving them multi-domain launch capability. The airframe can be launched from any platform including fixed-wing aircraft, rotor-wing aircraft in both high and low altitude, ground and utility vehicles, as well as watercraft.'Anduril, ‘ALTIUS’, https://www.anduril.com/hardware/altius/; Anduril, ‘Area-I, an Anduril company, unveils the ALTIUS 700’, … Continue reading
The exact extent of the autonomous capabilities of the ALTIUS 600-M and 700-M is currently unclear. Anduril has stated that the ALTIUS platform ‘is autonomous and one operator is able to control multiple assets. Altius has demonstrated autonomous coordinated strike, target recognition and collaborative teaming.'AviationWeek, ‘Anduril introduces loitering munition warheads for Altius drones’, https://aviationweek.com/shows-events/ausa/anduril-introduces-loitering-munition-warheads-altius-drones
In April 2023, Palmer Luckey, Anduril’s founder, told reporters that the 600M has ‘been equipped with autonomy – previously a guy would steer it around using a remote control and a screen but we’ve made it where one person can manage one or two dozen of the drones on his own’. Luckey also stated that ‘Some [loitering munitions] might be doing targeting, some might be strike, and one person, usually a helicopter pilot and maybe nine miles back, is telling them what to look for – perhaps surface-to-air missile launcher positions. If something of interest is located he’ll get an alert and, if necessary, he can order the drone to orbit the potential target. If required he can push a button and order that – or an accompanying drone – to take out the launch position. The drone will do it, but the helicopter pilot doesn’t have to sit there and remote-control it.'Australian Defence Magazine, ‘Anduril autonomous drones to aid Ukraine’, https://www.australiandefence.com.au/defence/unmanned/anduril-autonomous-drones-to-aid-ukraine
The 600M ‘can also be configured as a kamikaze loitering munition to attack high-value targets with a 3kg warhead’.
Instances of use:
In April 2023, it was reported that the ALTIUS 600M had been included in a U.S. $2 billion aid package for Ukraine.
Type: Loitering munition
Country: United States
Combat; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)
Max. range of 400km
Payload: The 600M’s modular nosecone can carry a variety of payloads including ISR and signals intelligence sensors, radio frequency decoys, communication relays and electronic warfare asset
|↑1||Anduril, ‘ALTIUS’, https://www.anduril.com/hardware/altius/; Anduril, ‘Area-I, an Anduril company, unveils the ALTIUS 700’, https://blog.anduril.com/area-i-an-anduril-company-unveils-the-altius-700-2b8e856d48b5; The Drive, ‘Our first look at an ALTIUS-600M loitering munition detonating’, https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/our-first-look-at-an-altius-600m-loitering-munition-detonating|
|↑2||AviationWeek, ‘Anduril introduces loitering munition warheads for Altius drones’, https://aviationweek.com/shows-events/ausa/anduril-introduces-loitering-munition-warheads-altius-drones|
|↑3||Australian Defence Magazine, ‘Anduril autonomous drones to aid Ukraine’, https://www.australiandefence.com.au/defence/unmanned/anduril-autonomous-drones-to-aid-ukraine|