Manufactured by European technology company Milrem, the Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System (THeMIS) has proven popular in recent years. The platform’s modular design enables it to be used for a range of missions from transport through explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) to offensive abilities and more.
Clocking in at 2.4m long and 2m wide, the almost-square UGV can carry a 750kg payload at speeds of 25km/h up to 1.5km away from its operator. It also comes in two colours, green and sand, to blend into different backgrounds.
In response to the British Army’s ‘Prototype Warfare’ push, MBDA Missile Systems showcased a THeMIS UGV fitted with a Brimstone missile system capable of carrying six missiles per vehicle. The MBDA system uses digital targeting data to allow the operator to fire the UGV’s payload on line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight targets.
MBDA UK Head of Land Domain Sales and Business Development Andy Allen said: “This cassette magazine, with its high weapon loadout, is optimised to counter mass armour. Pairing the combat-proven MBDA Brimstone missile with a flexible and mission deployed UGV such as the Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS provides the tactical commander with the capability to rapidly and remotely deliver high volumes of precision anti-armour effects, importantly in all weathers, against all known DAS and at extended ranges.”
MBDA said equipping the UGV with the Brimstone highlighted the missile’s ‘One Missile, Multi-Platform’ design. The UGV-mounted Brimstone is capable of targeting using radar and semi-active laser systems.
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In the run-up to DSEI, Kongsberg showcased a Javelin missile being fired on the move from a THeMIS platform. The company had a UGV on its stand fitted with both the missile system and a conventional .50 calibre machine gun.
During the tests, Kongsberg fired both the missile and the machine gun showcasing the offensive capabilities of the UGV system. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS executive vice president Pål Bratlie said: “The combination of a wireless and remotely controlled weapon system, integrated on an unmanned vehicle, introduces capabilities that will secure our soldiers’ mission and safety to an even greater extent.”
The Javelin was fired from the UGV using fire control technology developed by QinetiQ to allow for remote and wireless operation of the system. The company called the event ‘ground-breaking’.
Milrem Robotics CEO Kuldar Väärsi praised the range of uses for his companies THeMIS UGV saying: “Combing unmanned ground vehicles with modern weapon systems will bring disruptive capabilities to the battlefield. Milrem Robotics has experienced this effect already with several armies using the THeMIS with an integrated heavy machine gun. Adding such a capable antitank missile as the Javelin will significantly increase the disruptive effect”
GroundEye for EOD
The UGV’s versatility allows for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) applications. Developed in partnership with Raytheon’s UK division GroundEye allows for day or night detection of IEDs, mines and other explosive ordnance.
THeMIS equipped with GroundEye can geotag the location of threats, allowing operators to neutralise them before they cause damage. With the system mounted on an unmanned vehicle, operators can work at a safe distance.
The system locates explosive threats using a mix of ground-penetrating radar, command wire detection and more, with the THeMIS-mounted version equipped with an EOD arm to disarm dangers from a distance.
Raytheon did not have GroundEye on show at DSEI as the product was announced far earlier at 2016’s Eurosatory in Paris.
Built for the Estonian Defence Forces by ST Kinetic, the ADDER was the first weapons system to be mounted on THeMIS.
Featuring a stabilised gun and lock-on targeting, the system proved the ability of the UGV to carry a weapons systems paving the way for heavier-duty weaponry.
The ADDER Remote Weapons System allowed the UGV to be fitted with a range of weapons from general-purpose machine guns to 40mm grenade launchers, transmitting live feeds from a range of cameras that work at night and day with a laser ranger fire for increased accuracy.
Search and Rescue equipment
Milrem is also developing THeMIS’s search and rescue capabilities for civilian and defence purposes. For fires that are too dangerous for humans to approach THeMIS can be equipped with a water tank and remote-controlled water cannon.
The UGV’s ability to carry out the 3Ds – dull, dirty or dangerous missions – makes it well-suited for search and rescue and firefighting as the vehicle can go where people cannot. The search and rescue variant was developed under the name of ‘Multiscope Rescue Systems’ but borrows heavily from the military THeMIS platform.
This variant of the UGV has also been augmented for mining operations transporting heavy equipment and materials in and out of mines, with another variant using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDar) to determine the condition of mines before humans enter them.