Orbital’s MoU with US-based Anduril is a landmark deal that will see the ASX-listed company collaborate with one of the pioneers within the defence industry.

Tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) specialist Orbital Corp (ASX:OEC) has just signed a landmark MoU with a pioneering defence products company, Anduril Industries Asia Pacific.

The MoU establishes a collaborative agreement between Orbital UAV and Los Angeles-based Anduril to work on concepts, products and technical solutions in the uncrewed domain.

It’s also an opportunity for OEC to demonstrate its own capabilities as the two companies collaborate to advance the next generation of military technology.

“This MoU represents an opportunity to demonstrate not only our superior heavy fuel engine capability, but supports Orbital UAV to take the first steps toward building a long-term partnership to support Anduril’s growing portfolio of hardware and software products,” said Orbital UAV’s CEO, Todd Adler.

Orbital UAV and Anduril have agreed to collaborate where there is a common interest to meet customer needs, and will meet once a month at the executive level to identify strategic opportunities.

Anduril’s AI capabilities

Anduril was founded in 2017 by Palmer Luckey, the designer of the Oculus Rift, and founder of Oculus VR which was acquired by Facebook.

The company has special expertise in  artificial intelligence (AI), where it seeks to transform allied defence capabilities by fusing AI with the latest hardware technology.

Anduril is also a leader in robotics, advanced sensors, secure networking, aerospace, virtual reality, aircraft modelling and simulation.

The company recently secured a contract worth almost US$1 billion to support the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM)’s counter uncrewed systems.

It recently established a regional presence in Sydney, and says that it’s ready to  support the Australian Defence Force and other allied customers in the Asia Pacific Region.

“Unlike most defence companies, we don’t wait for our customers to tell us what they need,” said Anduril’s CEO and executive chairman, David Goodrich.

“We identify problems, privately fund R&D and sell finished products off the shelf.

“Orbital has a desire to diversify and understands the need to project and develop systems ahead of customer demand. We look forward to a long collaborative relationship with Orbital, both in the United States and Australia,” Goodrich added.

With the MoU now confirmed, Orbital UAV will deliver to Anduril a test engine for evaluation in the second quarter of 2022.


A robust defence industry

Meanwhile, investment within the Australian defence industry remains strong with a $270bn Federal budget splash allocated to the sector.

As the election campaigns have shown, building sovereign defence capability is a notable key priority for both the incumbent government as well as the opposition.

Orbital UAV will play a key role in this sector, after becoming part of a major Australian Defence project under the federal government’s recently announced LAND129 Phase 3 program.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has in the past stressed the importance of roles that companies like Orbital play in building out a sovereign defence capability with proprietary technology developed on Australian shores.

Last Friday, the company played host to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price, as they toured Orbital’s  Balcatta manufacturing facility in WA.

Scott Morrison (C), with Orbital UAV’s CEO, Todd Adler (R)


Their visit came as the government announced the extension of the Defence Industry Pathways Program.

The program has focused on bringing graduates into the maritime domain during a 12-month trial period, and will be funded with an extra $108.5 million over four years to enable graduates to get exposure within the sector.

“There’ll be some 1,500 new graduates that will be able to go through this course,” said Minister Price at the media briefing held at the Balcatta facility.

“Clearly the course here in Western Australia has been focused on the maritime domain and so this course will very easily be able to be rolled out in places like Adelaide, places like Cairns, but also will be able to adapt this course to aeronautics, for example,” she said.

The occasion also provided an opportunity for Orbital UAV to showcase its sovereign capability within the aerospace and defence sector, as well as in the uncrewed domain.

“Our Australian-owned technology is proven ‘in theatre’ and has supported the continued diversification of our customer base over the past two years,” said CEO Adler.

Orbital UAV’s sovereign capability will be on show at this week’s Indo Pacific 2022 International Maritime Exposition in Sydney (10-12 May).

The company is one of 20 Western Australian companies selected to participate on the Defence West stand.


This article was developed in collaboration with Orbital Corporation, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.