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Japan Orders Unmanned Ground Vehicles for Transport, Intelligence

Japan has tapped Milrem Robotics to supply three THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for supply transportation and intelligence missions.

The UGVs will be equipped with the Estonian company’s Intelligent Functions Kit (MIFIK), allowing them to take on- and off-road operations independently.

MIFIK also lets THeMIS’ operators plan missions ahead by utilizing the systems’ waypoint navigation technology to set en-route vehicle movements.

Milrem Robotics CEO Kuldar Väärsi said the contract underlines the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces’ goal of limiting human losses.

“We are honoured that the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces has selected us to support them in increasing the combat effectiveness of their ground forces through advanced robotics and achieving their capability goals,” he shared.

The deal is part of the Japan Ministry of Defense’s Rapid Acquisition Program, which aims to accelerate the deployment of Tokyo’s new defense capabilities.

The THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). The UGV is a tracked vehicle that has a hollow, rectangular body that can be used to transport equipment. The vehicle's chassis is painted deep green.
The THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle. Photo: Milrem Robotics

Japan’s Unmanned Force

Part of Japan’s efforts to bolster its military branches’ unmanned fleet includes plans to decommission its combat helicopters and replace them with attack drones in a “scrap and build” approach.

The move comes amid talks to reduce the size of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s fleet while maintaining a stable defense posture.

Additionally, the defense ministry signed a deal with Rheinmetall this month to produce its first fleet of Mission Master SP UGVs. Rheinmetall will collaborate with Japanese firm Marubeni to deliver the electric vehicles.

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