Shown above is a multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicle of Hanwha Aerospace. The vehicle, dubbed Arion-SMET, was demonstrated at Camp Humphreys on Nov. 29. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Aerospace

Korean defense giant’s demonstration takes place at US Army base

Hanwha Aerospace announced on Nov. 29 that it had successfully demonstrated the capabilities of its multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), called Arion-SMET, at a U.S. Army Garrison in South Korea.

The Seoul-based defense giant claimed that the event at Camp Humphreys had proved the 2-ton vehicle’s mature robotic and unmanned technologies.

The camp is the world’s largest U.S. military installation located in Pyeongtaek, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul.

Hanwha Aerospace and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) have been in conversation 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, according to Hanwha.

“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,” Hanwha Executive Vice President Seo Young-woo said.

“We will do our best to successfully complete the upcoming FCT, hoping to join U.S. DoD’s fast-track acquisition process in the future.”

Last month, the Arion-SMET was chosen as one of the ground equipment to be tested by the U.S. military under the FCT program aimed at assessing matured foreign technologies that can fill U.S. forces’ existing capability gaps.

It is the first time a Korean-built unmanned ground system is participating in such a field test program.

The Arion-SMET (Autonomous and Robotic systems for Intelligence Off-road Navigation – Small Multi-purpose Equipment Transport) 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 an advanced remote-controlled weapons station that can detect/ track enemy soldiers, localize the source of gunfire and fire back in the direction of the gunfire coming from.

With these innovative functionalities, the Arion-SMET is optimized for supporting manned and unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operations for infantry troops.

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.