Anduril’s teeing up to take larger defense market share with latest acquisition

Defense technology company Anduril Industries has acquired Adranos, a startup that manufactures solid rocket motors for in-space and terrestrial applications.

The two companies did not disclose the terms of the deal. Indiana-based Adranos’ solid rocket motor propulsion systems are designed for tactical missiles, hypersonics and space launch vehicles. Adranos has also developed a solid rocket fuel called Alitec, which has been tested in partnership with the U.S. Army.

In a statement, Anduril said it would further develop Adranos’ solid rocket motors production facility in Mississippi to increase output to “thousands” of motors per year.

Adranos has raised over $21 million since its founding in 2015. For much of the company’s existence, it was the singular example of a startup going after the missile motor business — a business that is currently dominated by major defense primes Northrop Grumman and Aerojet Rocketdyne, the two sole solid rocket motor suppliers to the Pentagon.

But this lack of competition has struck a note of concern amongst Defense officials, particularly as the backlog for solid rocket motors has grown. A 2022 report from the U.S. Department of Defense found that the defense sector shrunk from 51 to five prime contractors since the 1990s. It’s a situation that could lead to less innovation, higher prices and more vulnerable supply chains, the report found. (L3Harris, one such prime contractor, is currently in the process of buying Aerojet for $4.7 billion, in a move that would further consolidate the industry.)

“There is a clear need for greater competition and expanded supply in solid rocket motors for the United States and our allies,” Anduril CEO Brian Schimpf said in a statement.

The Adranos purchase is the latest signal that Anduril seeks to truly compete with these legacy primes. Anduril, founded in 2017, designs and manufactures drones, artificial intelligence platforms and other technology for the warfighter. Its weaponized autonomous drones were deployed on the Ukrainian battlefield as part of a $2 billion military aid package approved in February, according to industry reporting.

Anduril’s success has flown in opposition to the long-dominant perspective that defense tech is ill-suited for venture dollars. Such success stories, combined with rising geopolitical tensions and a sea change inside the Pentagon itself, has meant that more startups than ever before are actively seeking to work on tech at the intersection of national security and commercial — and more investors are willing to fund them.

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