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Defense industry

Hanwha Defense readies full-scale USV development

Apr 22, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Hanwha Defense readies full-scale USV development

Hanwha Defense Co., a wholly owned defense solutions subsidiary of Hanwha Aerospace Co., received a go-ahead sign from South Korea’s defense procurement agency to kick off the next phase in the government-led unmanned surveillance vehicle (USV) development project.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), an agency under the Ministry of National Defense responsible for procurement of munitions and fostering of defense industries, said on Apr. 22 that the exploratory development of the USV has been successfully completed.

Exploratory development is a stage during which key functions and operational suitability of a new weapons system is reviewed using a prototype product.

Commenced in 2018, the exploratory development phase of Hanwha’s USV evaluated its operational capabilities as well as the readiness of key technologies.

During the field trials conducted between December 2020 and February this year, the USV sufficiently met key operation requirements for military development, the company said.

In March, the USV also reached Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6, a key condition to go ahead with full-scale systems development.

According to Hanwha Defense, it is the first time globally that a mid- to large-sized unmanned ground combat vehicle has moved into the systems development stage, which will commence in 2022.

The national project to develop the USV is led by the Agency for Defense Development affiliated with DAPA. Within the project, Hanwha Defense is responsible for developing the unmanned, wheeled vehicle integrating communication and surveillance systems into a 6x6 platform.

Powered by hybrid power systems, the USV is to work either by remote control or autonomously. The vehicle features sophisticated functions such as follow-me, travel-route control, obstacle detection/avoidance, and path planning in case of communication loss.

The vehicle is also armed with a machine gun mounted on a remote-controlled weapon station developed by Hanwha Defense. The platform can be reconfigured for other missions with the installation of different equipment such as detection devices or drones for communications relay.

“This unmanned surveillance vehicle can be used to remotely lead mechanized units across a variety of terrains, including tactical roads, off-road, and unpaved roads,” said a Hanwha Defense spokesman.

Meanwhile, Hanwha Defense in 2019 completed the development of a 4x4 multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), the first of its kind in South Korea, to support infantry troops in different combat situations. The 1.5-ton vehicle operates on electricity to perform multiple missions, such as surveillance, logistics transport, evacuation of casualties, and combat engagement.

A newer 6x6 version, dubbed the Intelligence UGV, is set to be unveiled in July ahead of pilot operations in the Army’s drone-bot combat unit. The Intelligence UGV is to showcase upgraded performances with a payload capacity of 500 kg and a cruising radius of 100 km.

Write to Kyung-Min Kang at

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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