South Korean defense technology major Hanwha Aerospace has demonstrated the capabilities of its Arion-SMET multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) at a US Army Garrison in South Korea.
The showcase of the 2-ton UGV took place on November 29 at Camp Humphreys, the United States’ largest military installation outside the US located in Pyeongtaek, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul.
The company revealed it has been in conversation with the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) for potential collaboration on next-generation UGV technologies for some time.
During the technology showcase, the Arion-SMET proved a variety of unmanned technologies supporting infantry troops in the battlefield, such as remote-controlled and autonomous driving both on paved and unpaved roads; obstacle avoidance; autonomous homing for communications failures; gun-shot source localization; and vehicle/soldier following.
“The Arion-SMET has already proved its outstanding mission capabilities during a ROK Army trial earlier this year under a program to test the performance of weapons systems for overseas exports,” said executive vice president Youngwoo Seo at Land Systems Business Group of Hanwha Aerospace.
“We will do our best to successfully complete the upcoming Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program, hoping to join US DoD’s fast-track acquisition process in the future.”
In October, the Arion-SMET was chosen as one of the ground systems to be tested by the US military under the FCT program aimed at assessing matured foreign technologies that can fill US forces’ existing capability gaps.
This marks the first time a Korean-built unmanned ground system is participating in such a field test program. The Arion-SMET is based on a previous 4×4 UGV developed in 2019 from a joint civilian-military project in South Korea.
The 6×6 electric-powered vehicle was built to support infantry operations, such as ammunition transport, medical evacuation, reconnaissance, and fire support. The vehicle can drive up to 100km when fully charged and has a maximum payload capacity of 550kg, significantly improving its combat support and maneuvering capabilities.
It is also equipped with a remote-controlled weapons station that can detect/ track enemy soldiers, localize the source of gunfire and fire back in the direction of the incoming gunfire. The UGV is also optimized for supporting manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operations for infantry troops.