South Korean company Hyundai Rotem announced in late December it has been awarded two contracts from the South Korean defense procurement agency for the development of technologies that would turn Republic of Kora Army main battle tanks (MBTs) and self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) into unmanned vehicles.
The contracts are worth KRW15.2 billion (approx. $13.98M) and are divided into two stages of effort. In the first stage, Hyundai Rotem is to develop common technologies that could facilitate remote and unmanned operations across the ROK Army’s combat vehicle fleet.
The second stage will see the technologies incorporated into the K1 main battle tanks for trials by 2024.
Hyudai Rotem is the original equipment manufacturer of the K1 and upgraded K1A1 MBTs and has delivered over a thousand units to the ROK Army and Marine Corps.
In an announcement on December 31, the company said the project would set the foundation for developing technologies for unmanned systems and expanding future businesses.
South Korea is joining a number of other countries seeking to introduce unmanned operations into MBT and combat vehicles as a way of taking soldiers out of harm’s way.
Hyundai Rotem added that the December contract followed an earlier one from South Korea’s defense procurement agency (DAPA) for the delivery of HR-Sherpa multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).
The company’s two-ton UGV can carry supplies, evacuate patients and be fitted with remote-controlled weapon stations.