Thursday, 11 April 2024 16:47

South Korea relies on unmanned combat vehicles

 unmanned combat vehicles on South Korea unmanned combat vehicles on South Korea pixabay

Facing a shrinking armed force due to a declining number of recruits, South Korea is turning to innovation by launching a tender for the purchase of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for its Army and Marine Corps. According to a tender published early this month by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, the budget for these combat robots is set at 49.63 billion won (about $36.56 million USD).

What will you learn?

How does South Korea plan to strengthen its armed forces with the help of unmanned ground vehicles?
Who is the main provider of technology for the new unmanned ground vehicles in South Korea?
What tasks are the unmanned ground vehicles introduced into the South Korean armed forces supposed to perform?
What international experience does Hanwha Aerospace have in the field of unmanned ground vehicles?
What is South Korea's plan for the future use of unmanned ground vehicles in national defense?

Breakthrough in Military Modernization

The robots, which are to be purchased exclusively from domestic manufacturers, will participate in a tender, after which the production of an unspecified number of vehicles will continue until December 2026. This is the first program of its kind aimed at equipping Seoul's ground troops with operational UGVs. According to Kim Jae Yeop, a senior researcher at the Sungkyun Institute for Global Strategy in Seoul, these vehicles are intended for reconnaissance, transport, and lightly armed missions alongside manned ground formations.

Leading Candidates and Their Technologies

Two main companies are behind the development of UGVs: Hyundai Rotem and Hanwha Aerospace. Both firms, significant Korean defense companies, especially for land systems, have advanced their own UGV development programs. Hyundai Rotem confirmed to Defense News that it will participate in the tender, though it did not specify which platform it will offer.

Innovations on the Battlefield and Beyond

Hanwha Aerospace has also been active in the UGV field and can refer to international experience. Its vehicle, the Arion-SMET 6x6 UGV, was selected by the US armed forces to participate in a Foreign Comparative Testing program in Hawaii in December 2023. It was the first Korean UGV evaluated for potential adoption by the United States.

Future Planning

Furthermore, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration approved a two-year pilot project to develop a UGV-based air defense system for the Marine Corps. A prototype is expected to be ready by the second half of 2026. Armed with a 40mm weapon, the vehicle is designed to automatically detect, track, and destroy intruding drones, replacing existing manned anti-aircraft systems. This initiative aims to reduce the number of personnel required and increase defense efficiency.

This initiative demonstrates South Korea's determination to introduce advanced technologies to enhance the country's defense capabilities and modernize the armed forces, while also addressing the need for automation in the face of global challenges.

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