Hanwha Defense’s unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) will join the US Army’s competitive field test and evaluation programme. This is the first time that a South Korean unmanned weapon system has been chosen for performance tests in the United States, paving the way for potential cooperation with the US military’s future modernisation programmes. The UGV, codenamed Arion-SMET, has been selected as one of the equipment for the Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) operated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under the US Department of Defense. The FCT aims to test items and technologies of US foreign allies that have a high Technology Readiness Level (TRL) so as to satisfy valid defence requirements quickly and economically.
“Along with those great, legacy weapon systems such as K9, Hanwha Defense has striven for delivering robotics and autonomous systems with superb and tailor-made capabilities since 2006. The Arion-SMET is the latest edition to this effort that would stand strong at the era of ushering in Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T), and recently gets lots of attentions from the domestic and international market as its functionalities are easily expandable and its capabilities are very competitive,” said EVP Youngwoo Seo.
“This is a key achievement for Hanwha Defense and the South Korean defence industry. Arion-SMET’s participation in the FCT programme proves our technologies of defence robotics and unmanned systems are already in the world class and recognised competitive enough to enter the US and other foreign markets,” said Executive Vice President, Youngwoo Seo, head of the Department of Defense Robotics and Autonomous Systems Development.
Following the FCT decision, the company is discussing the detailed measures with the US military authorities on how to conduct field tests on mission capabilities, as the comparative tests on the Arion-SMET are expected to take place by the year’s end at the earliest, at a US Army base. The Arion-SMET is an acronym of Autonomous and Robotic systems for Intelligence Off-road Navigation – Small Multi-purpose Equipment Transport. The 2-ton vehicle is a 6×6 UGV evolved from a 4×4 multipurpose UGV developed in 2019 under a civil-military joint research and development programme led by Hanwha Defense. The South Korean Army successfully operated the Arion-SMET last year to trial the vehicle’s tactical operational capability. The Arion-SMET was built primarily for supporting infantry operations such as transporting munition and weapons; evacuating the wounded; remote-controlled or autonomous reconnaissance and surveillance; and close combat support. The vehicle has a modularity-driven design to support various missions.
Some of the key technologies of the ARION-SMET include autonomous off-road navigation; devices for tethering to follow a soldier or vehicle; autonomous homing for the communication failure; and software for supporting MUM-T operations. The vehicle is armed with a Deep Neural Network (DNN)-based remote-controlled weapons station (RCWS), which can detect/ track enemy soldiers, localise the source of gunfire and fire back in the direction of the gunfire coming from. With these innovative functionalities, the Arion-SMET is optimised for supporting manned and unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operations for infantry troops. The electric-powered Arion-SMET offers high mobility with a maximum speed of 43kph on paved roads and 34kph on unpaved roads. The vehicle can drive up to 100km when fully charged, and has a maximum payload capacity of 550kg. The Arion-SMET is a state-of-the-art 6×6 unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) developed by South Korean company Hanwha Defense. Hanwha Defense is a leading defense company in South Korea with multiple business branches around the globe. Hanwha Defense provides a wide range of advanced land defense systems from artillery systems, armored vehicles to air defense systems and unmanned ground systems.