Hanwha Arion-SMET Unmanned Ground Vehicle passes US Army field tests

Hanwha Arion-SMET Unmanned Ground Vehicle passes US Army field tests

Hanwha Defense, a South Korean company, completed a week-long field trial of its Arion-SMET unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), conducted by the US Marine Corps and US Army in Hawaii. This evaluation highlighted the vehicle’s versatile capabilities, underlining its potential.

The Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program, led by the Marine Corps Systems Command, included representatives from the III Marine Expeditionary Force and the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Ground Vehicle Systems Center. The tests focused on the vehicle’s ability to perform a variety of missions such as heavy equipment transport, remote-controlled driving, waypoint navigation, exploratory maneuvering, soldier following, and physical tether following.

This was the first time a South Korean unmanned weapon system was selected for performance tests in the United States, paving the way for potential cooperation with future modernization programs of the US military. The Arion-SMET is the result of a civilian-military joint research and development program led by Hanwha Defense, evolving from a 4×4 multipurpose UGV developed in 2019. It was primarily designed to support infantry operations, including transporting munitions and weapons, evacuating the wounded, remote-controlled or autonomous reconnaissance and surveillance, and close combat support.

The Arion-SMET, stemming from Hanwha’s expertise in robotic and autonomous systems (HAEMOS), is a 6-wheel fully electric UGV designed for a variety of missions. It supports remote-controlled and autonomous navigation in challenging terrain, as well as reconnaissance missions. It can also autonomously follow or lead soldiers and other vehicles.

With a maximum payload capacity of 550 kg and able to travel up to 100 km on a single charge, the Arion-SMET can reach speeds of up to 43 km/h on paved roads and 22 km/h on unpaved roads. It is envisioned for diverse military applications such as ammunition transport, medical evacuation, surveillance, and support in close combat. A notable innovation of the Arion-SMET is its advanced Remote-Controlled Weapon System (RCWS), capable of automatically tracking and targeting by detecting gunfire, equipped with a 5.56 mm machine gun that can be upgraded to a 7.62 mm version.

The vehicle stands out for its off-road autonomous navigation capabilities, the ability to follow a soldier or vehicle through a tethering device, autonomous return in case of communication loss, and support for Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) operations. Additionally, it is equipped with a Deep Neural Network (DNN)-based remote-controlled weapons station (RCWS), capable of detecting and tracking enemy soldiers, localizing the source of gunfire, and returning fire in the direction of the incoming shots.

The successful demonstration in Hawaii confirms the Arion-SMET’s operational readiness and its compatibility with the evolving requirements of contemporary military engagements.

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