Posted by John McHaleLONDON, 7 Aug. 2010. The European unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) market is growing slowly but steadily, depicting a relatively undisturbed trend for the year 2011 and beyond, say analysts at Frost & Sullivan in London. The U.S. has progressed in terms of the network enabled capability of their defense resources, spurring the defense departments of various European countries to focus on unmanned network centric solutions.Currently, soldier force modernization is on the agenda of several European countries, to retain their technological edge over developing nations, Frost analysts say. The gap between U.S. and European defense technology is an additional instigating factor. UGVs are becoming an integral part of network centric warfare."Network enabled capabilities are gradually gaining momentum within the ministries of defense (MoDs)," says Shyam Srinivasan, Frost & Sullivan research analyst. “The ability of remotely patrolling a group of vehicles and strategizing battlefield formations has evoked an interest to graduate to unmanned artillery in the future."New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, "Unmanned Ground Vehicles Market Assessment --Europe," finds that the market earned revenues of $302.5 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach $311.2 million by 2016.The European UGV industry has remained niche. The future lies in opening up opportunities for smaller participants to penetrate the market, Frost & Sullivan analysts say. Another potential is in the maintenance and repair of such specialized machinery in the period from now to 2016.The firm's research analysts say that reduced defense budget allocation is one of the primary restraints to the UGV market. Decreased funding for new technology is necessary to finance the production of traditional weapons for the war in Afghanistan."The unit cost of the equipment is also a restraint to procurement in numbers," Srinivasan says. "For example, a small unmanned ground vehicle (SUGV) with electro-optics/infrared (EO/IR) sensors would cost about $20,000 and the cost of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) machinery can go up to $300,000."The industry should focus on the commercial and civil market to increase revenue, Frost & Sullivan analysts say. The lower unit cost can be attained by using less expensive materials and technologies. Progress towards expendable equipment will result in manufacturing affordable equipment."Civil security and border patrol to tackle improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are some of the potential areas to focus on for greater revenue in the long-term," Srinivasan continues.