The THeMIS UGV, developed by Milrem Robotics (Tallinn, Estonia), recently completed a year-long initial deployment in Mali, the company announced on 5 May.
Initially deployed to Mali with the Estonian Defence Force (EDF) on the French-led counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane in April 2019, the vehicle has been used regularly on patrol and for transport within the forward operating base by three successive EDF platoons.
“Partitioned urban areas can be challenging, and one cannot always depend on APC support. The opportunity to bring along a half-ton of ammunition and water to places unreachable with an APC added great value to patrols and enhanced combat capability,” commented Senior EDF Staff Officer, Lt Col Sten Allik. “The THeMIS surprised us with its ability to withstand the tough environment. The heat and harsh terrain put the vehicle to the test; however, it passed with ease,” he added.
Covering 1,200km in one of the world’s harshest lava rock terrains and in temperatures climbing to 50°C in the shade, THeMIS was operational for over 300 hours.
“We collected a lot of valuable data and feedback during the deployment and although EDF’s experience with the THeMIS was positive, there is always room for improvement,” observed Milrem CEO, Kuldar Väärsi. “However, after this experience in Mali, we are confident that the THeMIS is more than capable of supporting operations in extremely hot climates.”
In future, the EDF would like to use THeMIS together with additional ISR, communication support, jamming, and remote weapon system capabilities. “The possibility to detect and neutralise the enemy or an explosive device from a distance is a crucial capability. It is easier to risk the vehicle than a human life. If we can reduce the risk to life in combat situations, we can increase operational speed,” Col Allik observed. Milrem Robotics will continue to support the EDF and is currently preparing for possible future deployments as early as the end of 2020.