THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) delivered by Estonian based Milrem Robotics company to the Ukrainian armed forces have undergone extensive operations in the combat zone, this deployment has already yielding initial user experience shared with the company.

Milrem Robotics recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Ukrainian Defense Industry (UDI), which consolidates national defence industry companies, that details several development and manufacturing activities between the company and the members of UDI. According to the agreement, the parties will start strategic cooperation in identifying Ukraine’s requirements and use cases for robotic systems which can enhance the capabilities of Ukraine’s armed units in the ongoing war and after the war.

“The UGVs delivered to Ukraine are being used to clear areas from anti-tank mines as well as unexploded ordnances (UXOs), transporting equipment to areas that are not accessible with conventional vehicles or where the risk of losing that equipment is high,” said Cpt (res) Jüri Pajuste, in charge of the Ukrainian program in Milrem Robotics, naming a few use-cases based on information gathered from the end-user. “However, the most important benefit comes not from avoiding the loss of equipment but the loss of life,” Pajuste added.

Sever multipurpose THeMIS UGVs delivered to Ukraine were used for are equipped for cargo delivery and casualties evacuation, The THeMIS seen here equipped with two stretchers. Photo:Milrem Robotics
Milrem Robotics delivered 14 THeMIS UGVs to Ukraine. Seven of the systems are intended to carry cargo and for casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) and seven, equipped with payloads from the French CNIM, for route clearance and demining operations. The THeMIS’ have also been used by engineers to carry anti-tank mines to accelerate mining operations. “Casualty evacuation and route clearance are two labour-intensive activities where soldiers performing these tasks immediately become targets for the enemy. UGVs, on the other hand, can be operated from a distance, keeping the soldiers in a safe location,” Pajuste added.

“The operators of the UGVs noted that during the bezdorizhzhia, as the muddy season is referred to in Ukrainian, the THeMIS can act as a re-supply vehicle instead of heavy trucks that tend to get stuck. Also, the small size and low height of the UGV makes its discovery by the enemy difficult and that has increased its survivability,“ Pajuste said.

Building on the industrial cooperation agreement, the companies involved will integrate Ukraine’s battlefield experience into Milrem Robotics’ existing robotic and autonomous systems and develop new products to create Ukraine’s manned and unmanned multi-domain capabilities. Additionally, the parties will investigate manufacturing THeMIS Combat (with HMG and antitank capabilities), Combat Engineering (mine detection and demining), CASEVAC unmanned ground vehicles and other Milrem Robotics’ products in Ukraine.

Milrem Robotics delivered the UGVs to Ukraine in mid 2023, under a partnership support agreement with German partner company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) of the KNDS Franco-German group. The THeMIS UGV is already part of different programs in 16 countries, including eight NATO members: Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the UK, and the US.