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Australia completes first prototype of Ghost Shark autonomous undersea vehicle

The first prototype of Australia's Ghost Shark XL-AUV programme, which was unveiled on 18 April 2024. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The first of three prototypes to be built under Australia's Ghost Shark extra-large autonomous undersea vehicle (XL-AUV) programme has been completed, the country's Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy announced on 18 April.

The programme to develop the XL-AUV is being jointly developed and funded by a partnership between the Australian Department of Defence and Anduril Australia, a subsidiary of US defence technology company Anduril Industries.

Also working in collaboration with this partnership is a team from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The Ghost Shark programme aims to develop a long-range AUV capability for the RAN's persistent intelligence gathering, surveillance, and remote strike requirements.

At a media event to disclose further details of the Ghost Shark programme, Conroy described the first prototype of the XL-AUV as a “combat-ready drone”.

“This drone is capable of doing intelligence-gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance and, importantly, delivering strike. So it has the ability to be fitted with weapons to deter potential aggressors”, Conroy added, without providing further details.

The Ghost Shark programme began in mid-2022 and a production variant will be available by the end of 2025, Conroy said.

The programme has been declared as ‘mission zero' of the country's Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA), which is a model that seeks to bring “bright ideas to prototypes, to production-ready variants that can equip the Australian Defence Force”, he added.

For more information on the RAN's underwater warfare capabilities, please seeSubmarines – Australia .

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