Ukraine is getting more THeMIS robots, ground vehicles that Russian troops have been offered $16,000 to capture

Ukraine is getting more THeMIS robots, ground vehicles that Russian troops have been offered $16,000 to capture
This picture taken on March 21, 2022 shows a view of Milrem Robotics' Estonian-built THeMIS (Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System) unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) on display at the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition (DIMDEX), in Qatar's capital Doha.
This picture taken on March 21, 2022 shows a view of Milrem Robotics' Estonian-built THeMIS (Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System) unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) on display at the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition (DIMDEX), in Qatar's capital Doha.KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images
  • Ukraine will receive 14 more THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles, manufacturer Milrem Robotics said Tuesday.

  • The vehicles are being paid for by the German government and will be delivered before next year.

  • They will be used to evacuate casualties and clear routes of explosive devices.

Ukraine is set to receive more than a dozen cutting-edge robotic vehicles that can be used to evacuate battlefield casualties and clear routes of explosive devices, among other tasks, Estonian military contractor Milrem Robotics announced Tuesday. A Russian think tank previously offered a bounty for the capture of one of these vehicles.

The unmanned vehicles, known as Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry Systems or simply "THeMIS," are being paid for by the German government as part of a deal between Milrem Robotics and German defense company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. The companies have agreed to deliver 14 of them by the end of the year.

Germany's Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Casualty evacuation and route clearance are two labour-intensive activities that require the engagement of several people who remain in constant threat of enemy fire," Jüri Pajuste, director of research and development at Milrem Robotics, said in a statement. "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."

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, around 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, estimated earlier this month. And according to British intelligence, Russia has used improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, throughout the war in an effort to inflict casualties and lower Ukrainian morale.

At least 6,655 civilians have also been confirmed killed, according to the United Nations, with another 10,368 injured — although the real toll is "likely considerably higher," Matilda Bogner, head of the UN's Human Rights Monitoring Mission, has said.

Evacuation robot (unmanned ground vehicle) THeMIS seen on a dusty road during the field tests in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Evacuation robot (unmanned ground vehicle) THeMIS seen on a dusty road during the field tests in Kyiv, Ukraine.Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An earlier delivery of THeMIS vehicles to Ukraine prompted a Russian think tank tied to the Kremlin's defense establishment to issue a $16,000 bounty — more than a typical Russian soldier receives in a year — for the capture of one "by any means," with the stated intent of studying it and manufacturing similar equipment in Russia itself.

"The conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated that modern warfare is unthinkable without the widespread use of unmanned vehicles," Ruslan Pukhov, the director of Moscow's Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said in a September statement to Insider, adding that "we are lagging behind."

At the time, a spokesperson for Milrem Robotics told Insider: "We take the bounty as a compliment."

The shipment to Ukraine is said to be of the unarmed variant of the THeMIS system, which can carry a payload of up to 1,650 pounds, enabling it to move multiple casualties at once. But according to the manufacturer, the vehicle can be "rapidly configured from having a transport function to being weaponized."

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