An Estonian infantry platoon currently serving in Mali has deployed for the first time the Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) during a military operation, testing its implementation in support of infantry in a conflict area from both a tactical and a technical viewpoint.
CAPTION: A Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle on patrol in Mali. Photo courtesy Milrem Robotics.
Second-in-command of Estpla-32, 2nd Lieutenant Madis Pärnpuu said deploying an unmanned vehicle would allow units to increase their combat power, as it reduces the physical load to soldiers and allows additional supplies, such as heavy weaponry, additional water and ammunition, to be included in an operation.
“We are currently using the UGV on patrols to identify and eliminate both technical and procedural bottlenecks, and test different ways of using it and integrating it into our tactics,” 2nd Lieutenant Pärnpuu said.
Mali is one of the toughest regions in the world with lava-rock soil, loose sand and high temperatures that can reach 50 degrees in the shade.
Such conditions test the capabilities of the THeMIS but also other technology available to units, such as radios and GPS equipment.
Despite the difficult circumstances, THeMIS has proven itself reliable.
President of the Defence Division of Milrem Robotics General (retd) Riho Terras said Mali was the perfect place to test new technology.
“In addition to supporting our troops, we have received a great deal of valuable feedback from Operation Barkhane on the reliability, ease of use and tactical use of the vehicle,” General Terras said.
“The company will use the information collected from Mali for further development to improve the UGV and make it an even better tool for dismounted units.”
Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS is currently the only tracked UGV of its size deployed in the operational area.
THeMIS is a multi-purpose tracked vehicle that can be equipped with a range of different combat systems or, as in Mali, can be used for logistic support and observation.
The vehicle can transport equipment such as water and ammunition and thanks to its cameras increase situational awareness and allow for an overview of dangerous areas without endangering soldiers.