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US Army to Field Test South Korean Unmanned Mini-Tank

The US Department of Defense has selected Hanwha Defense’s Arion-SMET unmanned ground vehicle for a competitive field test and evaluation program.

This is the first time the US has chosen a South Korean unmanned weapon system for performance tests, potentially opening the door for greater cooperation between the two nations on future modernization programs.

“This is a key achievement for Hanwha Defense and the South Korean defense industry,” Executive Vice President Youngwoo Seo said. 

“Arion-SMET’s participation in the [Foreign Comparative Test] program proves our technologies of defense robotics and unmanned systems are already world-class and recognized competitive enough to enter the US and other foreign markets.”

[Arion-SMET UGV to join US military’s field tests]

The Arion-SMET unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) developed by Hanwha…

Posted by Hanwha Defense – 한화디펜스 on Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Arion-SMET UGV

An acronym for “Autonomous and Robotic systems for Intelligence Off-road Navigation – Small Multi-purpose Equipment Transport,” the Arion-SMET is a two-ton 6×6 vehicle. 

It “evolved from a 4×4 multipurpose unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) developed in 2019 under a civil-military joint research and development program led by Hanwha Defense.”

The UGV is designed to support infantry operations, including ammunition and weapons transport, troop evacuation, remotely operated or autonomous reconnaissance and surveillance, and close combat support.

The Arion-SMET features “a deep neural network-based remote-controlled weapons station, which can detect/track enemy soldiers, localize the source of gunfire, and fire back in the direction of the gunfire.”

It also includes a tethering device for following a vehicle or soldier, autonomous homing in case of communication failure, and autonomous off-road navigation. 

“With these innovative functionalities, the Arion-SMET is optimized for supporting manned and unmanned teaming operations for infantry troops,” the company said.

The vehicle is electrically-powered and has a top speed of 43 kilometers (26 miles) per hour on pavement and 34 kilometers (21 miles) per hour on unpaved roads. It can drive up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a full battery charge and features a maximum payload capacity of 550 kilograms (1,213 pounds).

Hanwha Defense is currently discussing the details concerning how to field test the platform’s mission capabilities. The tests are expected to begin at the end of this year or early next year.

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