Estonia in collaboration with European countries to develop Modular Unmanned Ground Systems
The Estonian Center for Defense Investments on Friday, August 23, 2019, signed an agreement with representatives from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia and Spain for the development of Modular Unmanned Ground Systems (MUGS) with funding to be sought from the European Defense Fund (EDF).
Milrem Robotics THeMIS UGV Unmanned Ground Vehicle at Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris, France. June 2018. (Picture source Army Recognition)
Participating countries are planning to use a total of 30.6 million euros in funds from the EDF, to which the countries will add their co-funding. The first system prototype will be demonstrated in 2021.
The lead country for the project is Estonia. One of the parties to the consortium is Estonian company Milrem Robotics, developer of THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles.
An unmanned ground vehicle, along with a command and control system, cyber defense solution and integrated network of sensors, will be developed within the framework of the project. The system's initial operational functions are associated with improving situational awareness on the battlefield and raising the level of efficiency of the maneuvering and transportation capabilities of units.
The development project for Unmanned Ground Systems is one of the PESCO (EU Permanent Structured Cooperation) initiatives confirmed by EU ministers of defense in 2018. In order to bring the project to life, funding is being applied for from the European Defense Industrial Development Program (EDIDP). In order for the project to be financed, the application must make its way through the assessment of project proposals by the EU Commission's independent experts.
As part of preparations for the project, the Estonian Military Academy conducted a research and development project in increasing the combat capability of tactical level units of unmanned systems. The project was implemented in collaboration with a nine-strong consortium of Estonian defense industry companies. At the moment the capabilities of unmanned systems are being tested by the Estonian military unit serving in an international operation in Mali.