The Estonian Centre for Defence Investment (ECDI) signed a Joint Procurement Agreement with the Dutch authorities to procure a total of seven THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) from Milrem Robotics, the leading developer of robotics and autonomous systems in Europe.
Milrem Robotics will deliver four THeMIS vehicles acquired by the Royal Netherlands Army in the coming months. The Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) will receive their three vehicles this month.
According to the contract, Milrem Robotics is the system integrator who, in addition to the supplying the vehicles, also performs all the integration of third-party technologies, including weapons systems, onto the delivered UGVs. Notably these unmanned weapons systems will remain under human control.
“We are pleased that the unmanned ground vehicles developed by an Estonian company in the course of a defence research and development project supported by the Estonian Ministry of Defence can now be used by our armed forces,” said Ivar Janson, Strategic Category Manager for Armoured Vehicles at the ECDI. “We are especially pleased, that we found a common ground with our Dutch partners to conduct the Joint R&D project and procurement,” he added.
“We are delighted to enhance our cooperation with Milrem Robotics by increasing our fleet to six THeMIS vehicles in joint efforts with the Estonian Ministry of Defence. So far, the THeMIS has successfully been used for research and experiments by operational units of the 13 Light Brigade in Scotland, Germany, The Netherlands and during a live fire exercise in Austria. The addition of four extra THeMIS vehicles with a Remote Controlled Weapon System that is operated by a soldier provides us the opportunity to continue to develop concepts to enhance the combat power and decrease the risk for our soldiers,” said LtCol Martijn Hadicke, Commander of the Robot and Autonomous Systems (RAS) unit.
Milrem Robotics has already delivered two THeMIS UGVs to the RAS Unit of the 13th Light Brigade of the Royal Netherlands in 2019.
The Estonian Defence Forces used the THeMIS for 12 months in Mali during Operation Barkhane. Various EDF units have first-hand experience with the UGV from several military exercises.
Milrem Robotics’ first product, the THeMIS UGV has been delivered to nine countries of which seven are NATO members. The company’s other products are the Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle, intended to support mechanized units, and the Intelligent Functions Integration Kit, which enables the THeMIS but also other unmanned ground vehicles autonomous functionalities like waypoint navigation and follow-me. Milrem Robotics also performs system integration of capabilities such as sensors, software and sensor based intelligent functions, and weapon systems.
The company also leads iMUGS, an EDIDP funded project. This project develops the European standard architecture for unmanned ground vehicles and their management system, including cyber defence solutions, and demonstrates the advantages of unmanned systems for enhancing defence capabilities.