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First REUSABLE anti-air rocket Roadrunner can launch from ‘nest’ to kill cruise missiles…or land in one piece & go again

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THIS IS the world’s first reusable rocket – it boasts a highly explosive warhead, can return home for refueling, and travels just below the speed of sound.

Defence contractor Anduril have finally unveiled the Roadrunner, a twin-jet powered rocket with the ability to travel at high subsonic speeds, all whilst taking off and landing vertically.

The Roadrunner is somewhere between a reusable missile and a full-scale autonomous aircraft

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The Roadrunner is somewhere between a reusable missile and a full-scale autonomous aircraftCredit: YouTube/@Anduril Industries
The rocket has modular configurations that allow for higher explosive warheads to be attached

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The rocket has modular configurations that allow for higher explosive warheads to be attachedCredit: YouTube/@Anduril Industries
Extensive testing has already proven the rocket's capability to shoot targets out of the sky

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Extensive testing has already proven the rocket’s capability to shoot targets out of the skyCredit: YouTube/@Anduril Industries

The company’s founder Palmer Luckey said that he couldn’t offer much more information other than the basics about his Roadrunner’s performance capabilities.

He described it as shorter than himself, easily transported by a single individual, yet capable of reaching high subsonic speeds.

Luckey did reveal that his dream of a rocket, birthed from a sketch on a napkin, has been developed over the last few years and has already been tested extensively.

He said: “It’s somewhere between a reusable missile and a full-scale autonomous aircraft.

“Roadrunner itself is a totally reusable aircraft and there’s a lot of payloads you can put on it where it is totally reusable.”

Luckey said that he could not currently disclose exactly how fast it flies, or at what altitudes it can fly at.

However, he did go on to explain that his rocket is launched vertically, and if it returns from an attack in one piece, it lands in the same position it took off in.

The Roadrunner can then be refueled and sent out within minutes, which is what sets it apart from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 – which can also land vertically,

According to Luckey: “I love SpaceX, but what they’re doing requires a lot of refurbishment in between each rocket landing and relaunch … like weeks or months of work typically.

“This [Roadrunner] is something that can land, get refueled, and take off inside of a couple minutes.” 

Chief Strategy Officer Chris Brose revealed that Anduril has been working on counter-aerial systems and defence for the last five years.

He explained that this is what Roadrunner stemmed from, these early stages of technology development and analysis of how air threats were advancing.

He said that the latest in rocket technology offers a high degree of operational flexibility.

Their air vehicles can immediately be sent out as soon as there is a sign of danger and then be recovered and reused if it turns out to be a false alarm.

The Roadrunners could even be deployed to watch for potential threats and then redirected elsewhere upon demand, Brose says.

“The benefit of the Roadrunner, right, is that you can launch without regret.

“At the moment a sensor detects what you even think might be a threat, an operator can make a decision to deploy a Roadrunner to go out into that sort of general threat environment.

“It can conduct additional intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, targeting, and, in the event that you actually want to employ it for a defeat solution, you can do that too.

“If it turns out that you don’t, or if it turns out that that threat is not a threat, you can recall it, recover it, and reuse it.

“Similar to traditional approaches to deter and defeat incoming aerial threats like scrambling expensive and airfield-dependent jets, Roadrunner-M can take off, follow, and intercept distant targets at the first hint of danger.

“It gives operators more information and time to assess the target and rules of engagement.

“This radical shift in thinking allows for large-scale defensive launches at extraordinarily low cost, increasing redundancy for higher probability of lethality and enhancing the ability to simultaneously engage many targets.”

Although the defence company is keeping specific aspects of the rocket secret, Luckey did hint at how the Roadrunner will be so effective at following targets.

He said: “Roadrunner has onboard processing onboard sensors that allow it to find targets, calculate an optimal intercept path, and then take that target out.

“But it is not tied to its own bespoke fire control system or radar system. You can integrate it with any other system that you want to integrate [with] to get a cue off of.

“We’ve integrated Lattice, our AI engine, with a lot of different air defense systems, with a lot of different radar systems.”

Although Anduril is currently aiming for their project to be an air and missile defence asset, they have also stated that the rocket is readily adaptable.

They have stated that it can take on other roles, and due to modular configurations it could even use high-explosive warheads to conduct air-to-surface strikes.

It comes in a suitcase-esque “nest” that is easily transportable, and could be loaded onto ground vehicles, watercraft or other platforms.

According to Luckey, the cost of a single Roadrunner is currently a couple hundred thousands dollars, but this is expected to drop as they escalate production.

They are set to begin producing hundreds of Roadrunners, but the company hopes to scale up to producing thousands of units shortly.

The latest in rocket technology has onboard processing onboard sensors that allow it to find targets

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The latest in rocket technology has onboard processing onboard sensors that allow it to find targetsCredit: YouTube/@Anduril Industries
The Roadrunner also has intact interceptors and four retractable legs that allow it to take off and land vertically

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The Roadrunner also has intact interceptors and four retractable legs that allow it to take off and land verticallyCredit: YouTube/@Anduril Industries
The rocket is readily adaptable and could be used in kamikaze attacks

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The rocket is readily adaptable and could be used in kamikaze attacksCredit: YouTube/@Anduril Industries

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