South Korean conglomerate Hanwha announced last week that its Arion-SMET light robotic combat vehicle will undergo field tests at the U.S. Marine Corps training center.
According to a press release, Hanwha has signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense for the Foreign Comparative Performance Test (FCT) project. Accordingly, the main test of the Arion-SMET will be conducted at the Marine Corps Training Center on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii, for three weeks from early December this year.
FCT is a program promoted by the U.S. Department of Defense to evaluate the best technologies of allied defense companies around the world and connect them with development and acquisition projects promoted by the U.S. military. U.S. defense officials dispatched to various countries to evaluate more than 300 foreign technologies, and the U.S. military conducts an examination and finally selects 10 of them to proceed with the project. Upon successful completion of the test evaluation, the U.S. Department of Defense decides whether to proceed with related acquisition projects.
The field test will be conducted near the U.S. Marine Corps Base in Hawaii, where the Arion-SMET is tasked with transporting fuel, food and water, patients, and repair parts from a designated location to a certain distance away. Through the FCT test, Hanwha Aerospace plans to meet the U.S. Marine Corps’ requirements for world-class performance, including unmanned vehicle manufacturing technology and field autonomous maneuvering software technology.
Previously, Arion-SMET was selected for the FCT project by the U.S. Department of Defense in October last year and began demonstrating equipment for the U.S. Forces Korea at Camp Humphreys. This is the first time a South Korean-developed military unmanned vehicle has been selected for the FCT task.
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 multipurpose unmanned vehicle with a maximum speed of 43km/h, a range of 100km, and a payload of 550kg.
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.