Land Platforms

European land forces pursue UGV technologies for future infantry operations

14 March 2019

The THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle will be deployed by several European armies for experimentation. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

European armed forces should collaborate further to explore concepts of operation, tactics, techniques, and procedures associated with emerging unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) technology, defence sources told Jane's .

Addressing delegates at SMi's Future Soldier Technology conference in London on 12 March, senior service officials from French, German, and UK armed forces independently addressed issues regarding the ongoing evaluation of UGVs including Milrem Robotics' Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System (THeMIS).

According to Lieutenant Colonel Nick Serle, commanding officer of the British Army's Infantry Trials and Development Unit, a "few MILREM UGVs will be brought into service" to support the service's 21st Century Infantry concept.

However, Lt Col Serle warned of duplication of effort by multilateral partners.

"[Many] nations are looking at UGVs, situation awareness, and moving data around the battlefield," he said. "I sense we can do more to work together to realise some more of those benefits."

Lt Col Serle highlighted how UGVs could be used to support "last mile logistics support", moving supplies forward and casualties backwards.

"There will be huge investment in the next few years," he suggested before highlighting the British Army's consideration of the Platoon Robotics Project, which is focused on the provision of logistics, lethality, and surveillance and target acquisition (STA) to dismounted close combat small unit teams.

He questioned whether UGVs should be optionally manned and asked whether they should also feature "follow-me" technology and electric or hybrid motors.

Furthermore, he asked whether UGVs should carry multiple payloads or remain exclusively dedicated to supporting logistics, lethality, or STA mission serials; and whether an operator should operate a single or multiple UGVs on the battlefield.

"Decisions will be made over the next three years," Lt Col Serle confirmed while also referencing the army's Light Tactical Mobility Platform requirement that has yet to downselect a preferred solution.

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