Germany to arm Ukraine with 5th generation tank-like drones to battle Russia

In combat, the tanks provide direct fire support for manoeuvre forces and act as a force multiplier.
Loukia Papadopoulos
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The 5th generation THeMIS UGV.

Milrem Robotics/ Wikipedia 

Robotics and autonomous systems developer Milrem Robotics and the German defense company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) have signed a contract to deliver 14 THeMIS fifth-generation unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) to Ukraine, according to a press release by Milrem published on Tuesday.

The effort is being funded by the German Ministry of Defence.

According to the company’s website, “the purpose of the THeMIS Cargo is to reduce the cognitive load of soldiers and provide a means to carry and utilize extra gear and firepower. The THeMIS Cargo increases the mobility of dismounted units and makes them more effective against the adversary. The THeMIS Cargo can also be used to support on-base logistical activities and for last-mile resupply.”

The tank can reach 20 km per hour, has a maximum payload of 1200 kg, and runs on a diesel and electric generator. It has three cameras: IR (MIL-STD-810G), Thermal, and HDR.

Meanwhile, during combat, “the THeMIS Combat UGVs provide direct fire support for maneuver forces and act as a force multiplier. With an integrated self-stabilizing remote-controlled weapon system, they provide high precision over wide areas, day and night, increasing stand-off distance, force protection, and survivability. Combat UGVs can be equipped with light or heavy machine guns, 40 mm grenade launchers, 30 mm autocannons, and Anti-Tank Missile Systems.”

Casualty evacuation and route clearance

About half of Ukraine's new tanks will be configured for casualty evacuation and are scheduled to be delivered by the end of this year. The remaining seven, to be delivered in the second quarter of 2023, will be configured for route clearance with payloads from the French defense manufacturer CNIM Systèmes Industriels.

“Casualty evacuation and route clearance are two labor-intensive activities that require the engagement of several people who remain in constant threat of enemy fire. Automating these tasks with unmanned vehicles alleviates that danger and allows more soldiers to stay in a safe area or be tasked for more important activities,” explained Captain Jüri Pajuste, Defence R&D Director at Milrem Robotics.

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Valuable assets

A previous model of the CASEVAC THeMIS tanks delivered to a Ukrainian charitable organization earlier this year has already been reported to be a valuable efficient asset.

“The deployment of the THEMIS UGV to Ukraine means that the Ukrainian forces can increase the safety of their soldiers and let the UGVs handle tasks that are an immediate threat to humans. That is the ultimate purpose of robotic systems. Milrem Robotics is proud to be able to contribute to Ukraine’s fight against the aggressor,” said Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics.

“This important project gives evidence of our common ability to provide advanced technology to Ukraine. We are determined to support Ukraine with protective and lifesaving equipment. The fast delivery of 14 THeMIS UGVs proves that KMW and Milrem are partners you can rely on,” said Ralf Ketzel, CEO of KMW.

The THeMIS UGV is already deployed in 16 countries, including eight NATO members: Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the UK, and the U.S.