By Abhinav Parmar and Mike Stone

(Reuters) – Defense technology startup Anduril Industries, founded by entrepreneur Palmer Luckey, said on Thursday it acquired autonomous aircraft maker Blue Force Technologies, as it looks to strengthen its autonomous fleet and software capabilities.

The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, comes as aerospace companies ramp up their spending on artificial intelligence and autonomous aircraft amid geopolitical uncertainties.

North Carolina-based Blue Force designs and manufactures composite aircraft and components.

“It has always been part of our journey to climb up the value chain so to speak, to build more complex systems, more mission relevant systems,” Chris Brose, chief strategy officer at Anduril told Reuters in an interview.

Fury, the larger size drone with a 17-foot wingspan that Blue Force makes, was attractive because it would be “able to generate deterrence vis-a-vis China: longer range, faster speeds, greater payload carrying capacity, greater survivability,” he said.

Anduril, founded in 2017, develops and fields integrated autonomous solutions across a wide variety of sensors, including drones, effectors and assets and has experience automating the operations of robotic systems deployed in tactical environments.

Anduril earlier this year also launched its Lattice for Mission Autonomy, an artificial intelligence-enabled software, used to collaborate teams of autonomous systems during missions under human supervision.

Luckey is credited for founding virtual reality company Oculus VR, which was later acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $2.3 billion.

(Reporting by Abhinav Parmar in Bengaluru and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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