WASHINGTON — Defense contractor Anduril Industries acquired Adranos, a manufacturer of solid rocket motors, the companies announced June 25. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2015, Adranos manufactures solid rocket motors in coastal Mississippi and last year opened a fuel-production facility in Indiana. The startup invented a proprietary aluminum-lithium alloy fuel called ALITEC to power solid rocket motors used in tactical missiles and space launch vehicles. 

“Through this acquisition, Anduril will become a merchant supplier of solid rocket motors to prime contractors delivering missiles, hypersonics and other propulsion systems for the Department of Defense’s most important programs,” Anduril said in a statement.

Solid rocket motors is one sector of the defense industrial base where the Pentagon worries that there are not enough domestic sources.

Currently only Northrop Grumman and Aerojet Rocketdyne are supplying solid rocket motors to DoD. Aerojet is in the process of being acquired by L3Harris Technologies. 

Anduril said its entrance to the market as a supplier “will bring more resources and competition to an industry facing heavy consolidation.”

The company said it plans to invest in Adranos’s solid rocket complex production facility in Mississippi to increase production rates.

‘Need for greater competition’

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

Adranos CEO Chris Stoker said the acquisition will help the company “rapidly mature our technology and scale our team and production capabilities to thousands of traditional and ALITEC solid rocket motors per year.”

The ALITEC fuel has been tested on tactical missile-sized solid rocket motors under a program jointly funded by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force. Adranos in 2019 said it conducted flight tests under an Army program, demonstrating that motors utilizing ALITEC fuel could increase the range of a missile system by nearly 40 percent.

Anduril Industries, founded in 2017, is a defense technology specialist based in Costa Mesa, California. The company specializes in artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation. It developed drones and artificial intelligence software to help Ukrainian forces conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...