Estonian Artillery Deploys UGVs for Fire Support and Situational Awareness

Milrem Robotics THeMIS
Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles

In April, the Estonian Defence Forces artillery battalion trialled two Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) during a live-fire exercise. The tasks given to the UGVs included advanced situational awareness, casualty evacuation and support the unit while it s manoeuvred to provide direct fire support from various positions.

The two UGVs differed in their set up; one was dedicated to combat support and featured an integral FN Herstal deFNder Light Remote Weapon System (RWS) with a 7.62 mm machine gun while the other operated Acecore’s tethered drone.

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The THeMIS Combat was used to provide direct fire support with its machine gun to an antitank weapons team and a forward observer’s team as they manoeuvred into position, then covered their withdrawal. This was also used for CASEVAC at the main position.

THeMIS Observe deployed the tethered drone to provide overwatch and increase the battalion’s situational awareness.

“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,” said Lieutenant Mari-Li Kapp, commander of operations and training section in the artillery battalion..

“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 UGV has been acquired by 11 countries, of which seven are NATO members, including Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and the US. In April, Milrem delivered its first THeMIS UGV to Australian homeland security specialist XTEK for demonstrations.

by Andrew Drwiega