Hanwha’s multipurpose unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), the Arion-SMET, has completed a week-long field test conducted by the US Marine Corps and US Army. This accomplishment marks a significant milestone for the robotic vehicle, positioning it as a potential contender in the global UGV market.
The field tests were carried out as part of the Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) run by the US Marine Corps Systems Command. Representatives from III Marine Expeditionary Force (III-MEF) and Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) also joined the testing held in Marine Corps Training Area Bellows (MCTAB), located on the eastern edge of Oahu, Hawaii, from December 14-22, 2023.
This remarks the first instance of a South Korean UGV participating in the US Department of Defense FCT, a program designed to assess, evaluate, and verify cutting-edge technologies developed by defense contractors from the US allies, aimed at enhancing the defense capabilities of the US military.
Prior to the actual FCT, a group of Marines had three days of user training sessions to operate the 2-ton electric robotic vehicle on challenging terrains, such as turf-covered packed sand beach course, soft sand, sand clay, bumpy and rutted roads. The tests were focused on evaluating the vehicle’s various mission capabilities, including heavy equipment transport, remote-controlled driving, waypoint navigation, exploratory maneuvering, soldier following, and physical tether following.
Youngwoo Seo, Executive Vice President of Hanwha Aerospace’s Land Systems Business Group, expressed his confidence in the Arion-SMET’s advanced hardware and software, emphasizing the global attention the UGV is receiving.
“Arion-SMET’s participation in the US FCT program as evidence of its potential success, positioning it as a strong contender in the UGV markets of the US and other countries in the future,” said Dr. Seo.
Meanwhile, Hanwha Defense USA (HDUSA), an American defense business affiliate of Hanwha Aerospace, is planning to compete for the second increment of the US Army’s Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (S-MET) program, dubbed the S-MET Increment II.
John Kelly, President and CEO of HDUSA, said, “HDUSA is interested in the S-MET Increment II and is preparing a partnership with US prime contractors and suppliers to compete for the unmanned ground vehicle contest.”
The Arion-SMET, an acronym for Autonomous and Robotic Systems for Intelligence Off-road Navigation – SMET, is one of the most advanced UGVs for the perspective of fully integrating HAEMOS (Hanwha Aerospace’s solutions for robotic and autonomous systems) with 6X6 fully electric unmanned vehicle for supporting infantry operations, including ammunition transport, medical evacuation, reconnaissance, and close combat support.
With a maximum payload capacity of 550kg (1200 lb), the UGV can cover up to 100km (62 mi) on a full charge, boasting a top speed of 43km/h (26.7 mi/h) on paved roads, and 22km/h (13.6 mi/h) on unpaved roads. In addition, the Arion-SMET can be additionally equipped with an advanced Remote-Controlled Weapon System (RCWS) that can automatically track and aim at targets through gunshot source localization, featuring a 5.56mm RCWS extendable to 7.62mm machine gun.
The Arion-SMET can be operated in various modes including remote-controlled driving, autonomous off-road driving, exploratory maneuvering, physical tether following, and leading soldier and vehicle-following.