An armed variant of Milrem Robotics' THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) participated in the NATO 'Spring Storm' exercise held in Estonia from 29 April to 17 May.
THeMIS was equipped with FN Herstal's deFNder 12.7 mm medium remote weapon station (RWS). The RWS is equipped with the ANTARES optronic system, which gives the vehicle a 360° view of its surroundings as well as including target and laser warning detection.
The platform was operated by the Estonian Defence Force's Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion and was deployed in simulated battlefield scenarios, which included defensive and offensive manoeuvres in rural and urban environments.
"This year a weaponised UGV was used in actual tactical scenarios to support the infantry units combat operation," said Gert Hankewitz, export director at Milrem Robotics.
"That enabled us to assess the capability of the THeMIS UGV and see how well the weaponised vehicle performs on different terrain, what is the actual tactical communication range, and how the vehicle enhances the situational awareness of fighting units," he added.
The DeFNder can mount either a 5.56 mm FN Minimi/M249, 7.62 mm Minimi/MK48, 7.62 mm FN MAG/GPMG/M240, .50 calibre (12.7 mm) M2HB/M2HB-QCB MG, 12.7 mm M3P MG, or 40 mm automatic grenade launcher (AGL) in a soft-recoil mount. The RWS has a standard load of 200 rounds of 12.7 mm ammunition with the possibility to carry up to 500 rounds.
According to Hankewitz, the exercise enabled the company to train forces unfamiliar with the UGV and assess their performance after passing its training programme. The experience and feedback from the unit is also expected to improve the quality of future training.
"It also shows us the new innovative ways how soldiers tactically use the UGV to achieve their mission, helping us to improve tactical training and concept of operation development," he noted.
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