The artillery battalion of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) made use of the Milrem Robotics THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle in a live-fire exercise in April, to provide advanced situational awareness, CASEVAC and manoeuvre support, while providing direct fire support from multiple locations.

Two THeMIS variants were used: the Combat Support model, integrated with FN Herstal’s deFNder Light Remote Weapon System (RWS), mounting a 7.62mm machinegun; and the THeMIS Observe, with Acecore’s tethered drone.

The THeMIS Combat was tasked with supporting an advance force that consisted of an anti-tank weapons team and a forward observer team. Its principal task was to provide covering fire and support the retreat of the two teams to alternative positions, as well as transporting their anti-tank weapons. At the main battle position, the UGV was used for casualty evacuation.

The THeMIS Observe provided overwatch and enhanced the battalion’s situational awareness. The use of a tethered attachment to the THeMIS UGV provides tactical units with 24 hours of constant observation of the operational area – essential from a situational awareness perspective as well as from a peacetime live-fire safety perspective.   

Taking part in the live-fire exercise of the Artillery Battalion was a great opportunity for us to validate our new infantry support UGV with end-users in an actual combat scenario,” said Jüri Pajuste, Director of Defence Research at Milrem Robotics. “The THeMIS Combat Support, as well as other unmanned ground systems, will enhance various combat capabilities and help reduce loss of life during combat operations.”

We found several benefits in including UGVs into our battle scenario,” added Lt Mari-Li Kapp, commander of the operations and training section (S3) in the Artillery Battalion. “Having UGVs as a part of the reconnaissance force that prepares the arrival of the main unit, the UGVs could secure the indirect fire and anti-tank teams by providing direct fire support during an engagement and whilst some units are withdrawing. UGVs could also act as front guards all by themselves since they can provide situational awareness and act as forward observers for indirect fire.”

For a brief video of the exercise, click here

THeMIS Observe incorporates a tethered unmanned aerial system (UAS). (Photo: Milrem Robotics)

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