A KC-46 Pegasus lands at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, in preparation for the Wings Over Columbus 2022 Airshow, March 24, 2022.

A KC-46 Pegasus lands at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, in preparation for the Wings Over Columbus 2022 Airshow, March 24, 2022. U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen

Defense Business Brief: Anduril’s ‘call to action;’ Another Boeing spox leaves; Palantir CEO in Kyiv; and more.

Anduril, the much-watched AI-and-autonomy startup, turns five next week and will use its birthday to call for a “reboot the arsenal of democracy” in hopes of attracting more entrepreneurs and engineers to defense work.

The company is planning a splashy debut of a new mission statement, described by one executive as a “call to action,” for government officials, industry leaders, and lawmakers to think differently about national security.

“It's a call to action, basically to everyone, to really think critically about national security,” Shannon Prior, the company’s head of communications, said in an interview Friday. 

Specifically, it will call on “passionate patriotic engineers, to work on emerging technologies for national security,” Prior said. It will urge entrepreneurs to create new startups. It’ll call on government officials “to scale emerging and innovative technologies now.” 

“We need more emerging defense companies—we need a new breed of defense companies, to reinvigorate the defense industrial base,” she said.

Anduril is looking to make a splash in the DC area, taking out a full-page advertisement in Monday’s Washington Post and putting up posters throughout the Washington area. Bound, hardcover copies of the mission statement will be sent to all of the company’s employees, Pentagon officials, and the media. It’s also creating a website as well as a podcast. 

“We want to grab people's attention,” Prior said.

Boeing’s latest chief communications officer is leaving the company after fewer than two years on the job. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun announced the impending departure of Edward Dandridge in an email to employees this week, Reuters reports

Comms churn. Dandridge was Boeing’s sixth comms chief in five years, and his departure comes as the company works to improve its image and gain public trust in the wake of airliner crashes, revelations of poor safety culture, and delays in military aircraft work. Boeing executives have kept an unusually low profile amid the 737 Max crisis, and the company has also reduced its engagement with defense reporters in recent years. Key communications employees within its defense business, some with decades of experience, have quit or been laid off. Reporters' requests to interview executives are routinely denied or ignored.

The Air Force’s KC-46 tanker has been cleared for more refueling responsibilities. The Boeing-made tanker, which has experienced numerous delays over the years, is now available for 97 percent of U.S. Transportation Command’s daily refueling responsibilities, the Air Force said. That doesn’t mean the aircraft is flying all of those refueling missions, but could be used for them. For some context, one year ago the aircraft could refuel 0 percent of TRANSCOM’s mission. With most U.S. military aircraft now certified to refuel from the KC-46, the focus will now become certifying ally aircraft. 

Rocket startup Ursa Major announced it is taking orders for a 3D-printed engine that could replace the Russian-made RD-180 used on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V. Called Arroway, the 200,000-pound-thrust rocket would be reusable, the company said. Ursa Major said it could deliver the rocket to customers by 2025. 

Palantir CEO Alex Karp showed up in Ukraine this week for a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said that Karp is the first CEO to visit Kyiv since Russia’s invasion in late February. “Impressive support and faith in credibility of investments: agreed on office opening and digital support of Army,” Federov tweeted. Palantir told Bloomberg that Karp discussed how the company “can continue to use its technology to support Ukraine.”

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