Japan’s SDF To Evaluate Mission Master Unmanned Ground Vehicles

Mission Master UGV
Mission Master UGV

Japan’s Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) has taken a major step in its consideration of the potential roles and contribution of Unmanned Ground Vehicle systems in its awarding a contract to Rheinmetall for its Mission Master UGVs.

The acquisition of three Mission Master Silent Partner (SP) models from Rheinmetall Canada was made in a multi-million contract from the Japanese Ministry of Defense. The JGSDF has selected to acquire one each of the cargo, surveillance and remote controlled weapon station variants. Delivery is to be provided to support evaluations intended to begin in early 2025.

Rheinmetall is cooperating on the project with the Japanese firm Marubeni Aerospace, a major industry conglomerate. Marubeni will provide local  that training, logistics, and other support for the to the JGSDF testing and evaluations.

Mission Master was initially developed in 2017 and has been continuously updated and improved. It is an 8×8 platform with a length of 2.95m and weighing 750kg. The vehicle uses a low-signature electric motor which offers both stealth and agility. It is all-electric with a maximum road speed of 40 kmph and is fully amphibious. In the later it can carry 300 kg payload and travel at 3 kmph. The Cargo version is configured for various logistics roles carrying food, water, ammunition and other supplies forward with and to tactical units. The remote controlled weapon station can be equipped with a .50 heavy machine gun in a stabilized mount with day/night electro-optic sensor fire controls. In the surveillance role the Mission Master has been provided with various reconnaissance and target acquisition sensors including their mounting on a telescoping elevating mast.

Rheinmetall’s Mission Master SP utilizes PATH for navigation and movement control. PATH, developed by Rheinmetall employs Artificial Intelligence (AI) in conjunction with a suite of advanced sensors. Its perception algorithms enable the Mission Master to navigate autonomously through complex terrain and challenging environments. It is capable of operating in various scenarios including assisted control by a soldier, in lead following, or along a programed course.

PATH enables military vehicles to operate in unmanned mode providing a wide range of teleoperation options including a tablet, smartwatch, soldier system, and single-hand controller.

Features include follow-me, convoy, and autonomous navigation modes with control protection to ensure safe operation. The systems are networked with both Rheinmetall’s soldier system and its Command and Control Software compatible user battle management systems.

Mission Master has also been evaluated 2020 by the Unted Kingdom’s armed forces as part of its Robotic Platoon Vehicle program. It has also been successfully employed in exercises by land forces of Germany, the United States, Royal Dutch and Polish armies.

by Stephen W. Miller