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SMi MRAS 2022: Officials fear delays to EU unmanned ground vehicle project

Milrem Robotics' THeMIS (pictured) has been the front and centre of the EU's iMUGS project for a common unmanned ground system. In the follow-on stage, it is intended to move work onto a larger UGV integrating more autonomy and with comparable mobility to a tank. (Milrem Robotics)

Officials from some EU member states are concerned that the follow-on to the Integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System (iMUGS), the European Defence Fund (EDF) project to develop a common unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), is liable to be delayed by at least a year, Janes has learned.

Speaking to Janes following the SMi Military Robotics and Autonomous Systems 2022 (SMi MRAS 2022) conference in London, Martin Jõesaar, chief of project office – iMUGS with the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment, confirmed that EU officials discussing the allocation of funds for the EDF's 2021–27 budget are considering pushing back the next phase of the EU's UGV project in favour of work on a new main battle tank (MBT).

The original plan for the EDF's follow-on UGV programme was to issue a request for submissions in 2023 with a view to beginning work on the project in 2024. According to the plans under discussion, the EDF's MBT project could be enlarged and accelerated at the expense of the UGV work, resulting in possible delays of a year or more for the iMUGS successor project. Janes understands that the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine is the reason a number of EU Ministries of Defence (MoDs) are pushing for an acceleration of the EDF's MBT project.

The UGV project in question, which Janes

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