China North Industries Corporation (Norinco), the primary supplier of land combat platforms and weapons to the People's Liberation Army (PLA), used the Airshow China 2018 exhibition in Zhuhai to signal its intent to increase its presence in the unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) market when it unveiled four new prototype unmanned combat and logistics UGVs as well as updates to two of its existing vehicles.
Prototype UGVs showcased by the Beijing-based company include the 6 tonne King Leopard Tracked Reconnaissance and Assault UGV, which has been specifically designed to provide light attack and reconnaissance support to combat and tactical vehicles in high-threat environments.
The King Leopard is powered by a diesel engine and armed with an electrically powered 23 mm chain gun. It is understood that the weapon can fire a variety of ammunition natures, including armour piercing incendiary (API) and high-explosive (HE). A mast-mounted electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor payload comprising a high-definition daylight camera, thermal imager, and laser rangefinder enables to perform day/night reconnaissance and targeting missions in place of manned assets.
Norinco is also developing the 1.2 tonne Cavalry Lightweight Tracked Multi-Purpose UGV, which is equipped with a modified UW1 remote weapon station (RWS) and armed with a 7.62 mm machine gun and a pair of unguided 80 mm anti-armour or breaching rocket launchers. The electric-powered vehicle is also equipped with an extensive EO/IR suite comprising the RWS' integral daylight camera and thermal imager, as well as a mast-mounted sensor payload that can traverse independently to improve situational awareness.
The Cavalry is understood to feature high levels of autonomy - with three modes of control comprising teleoperation, person-follower behaviour, and waypoint navigation - and can be directed via a handheld operator control unit that integrates imagery and terrain data captured by the RWS's sensors, the mast-mounted EO/IR payload, and its hull-mounted LIDAR sensors and cameras to improve navigation accuracy.
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