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In addition to the Bundeswehr, the UN MINUSMA mission (Mission multidimensional integrée des Nations Unies pour la Stabilization au Mali) in Mali also involves the armed forces of many other nations, including soldiers from Estonia. An Estonian infantry platoon recently used the Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) THeMIS (Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System) from Milrem Robotics during a patrol.

The Estpla-32 infantry platoon first used the UGV during a military operation to conduct a first field test for integration into the infantry from both a tactical and technical perspective.

“The use of an unmanned vehicle enables the units to increase their combat strength by reducing the physical strain on the soldiers and allowing them to carry additional supplies for the operations. This includes additional heavy weapons, water and ammunition that could not be carried without the vehicle, ”said Lieutenant Madis Pärnpuu, deputy platoon leader Estpla-32. "We are currently using the UGV on patrols to identify and eliminate technical and procedural bottlenecks, as well as to test various options for use and to integrate them into our tactics," he added.

So far, the UGV THeMIS was only used to transport the devices required by the unit in Mali within and in the immediate vicinity of the camp.

With its lava rock floors, loose sand and high temperatures - which can reach up to 50 ° C in the shade - Mali is one of the most demanding environmental conditions in the world. Such conditions test the performance of THeMIS, but also other technologies of the unit such as radio and GPS devices through their paces. Despite these high challenges, the THeMIS has so far proven to be extremely reliable.

“Mali is the perfect place to test new technologies. In addition to supporting our troops, Operation Barkhane has provided us with valuable feedback on the reliability, ease of use and tactical use of the vehicle, ”said General ret. Riho Terras, President of the Defense Department at Milrem Robotics. The company intends to use the information gathered in Mali for the further development of the UGV.

According to Milrem Robotics, THeMIS is currently the only chain UGV of its size that is used in the Mali area. It will continue to be used on site in 2020.

The Themis a plurality take on roles, including as a recovery vehicle, carrier arms and UAV platform. (Video: Milrem Robotics)

Versatile configuration options

The THeMIS is a multi-purpose tracked vehicle that can be equipped with various combat systems. It is used in Mali for transportation and surveillance. The vehicle can transport equipment such as water and ammunition and, thanks to its cameras (IR (MIL-STD-810G), Thermal, HDR), increase situational awareness and provide an overview of dangerous areas without endangering the soldiers themselves. The vehicle can also be equipped with a weapon station, an IED reconnaissance and defusing kit and many other options.

Use of the Themis in the PROTECTOR RWS configuration in connection with a Black Hornet UAV. (Video: Milrem Robotics)

The ADDER DM from manufacturer Singapore Technologies Kinetics, the Kongsberg PROTECTOR RWS, the FN Herstal deFNder Medium as well as that MBDA IMPACT (Integrated MMP Precision Attack Combat Turret) system integrated, which is equipped with two MMP anti-tank systems of the 5th generation and a machine gun for self-defense. In EOD use, the Raytheon UK GroundEye is used as the payload. And it can serve as a transport, take-off and landing platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). These are brought forward to the operational area in a closing transport box that protects the UAV in order to start there or to land again after successful completion. So far, the Threod Systems KX-4 LE (Long Endurance) Titan and ELIX-XL systems from ELI have been integrated.

Use of the Themis in the deFNder Medium configuration as a fire support vehicle for the infantry. (Video: Milrem Robotics)

The drive is provided with a diesel-electric engine. The payload is given as 750 kg kg at a net weight of 1,630. The maximum speed is 25 km / h and the duration of 12 to 15 hours in the hybrid mode, 0.5 to 1.5 hours on electric power and thus virtually silent. The dimensions of the Themis 2.4 mx 2.0 mx 1.15 m (L / B / H).

André Forkert