Estonian robot THeMIS captured by Russians after a two-year hunt

Russian sources have announced that their forces have captured the elusive Estonian robot, THeMIS, which was donated to Ukraine nearly two years ago. This robotic ground platform was among Estonia’s initial contributions to Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February 2022. It was also the first foreign donation publicly targeted by Moscow.

Estonian robot THeMIS captured by Russians after a two-year hunt
Photo credit: Top War

To substantiate the claim, the Russian source has shared the robot’s nameplate. The THeMIS 4.5, identified by serial number 45046 and model number MR100585, bears a NATO Stock Number (NSN) of 2360-38-001-4590. The nameplate prominently displays the logo of the Estonian manufacturer, Milrem Robotics. Additional details include its weight of 1,630 kg, a maximum payload of 750 kg, and a top speed of 20 km/h. 

Last year, the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies [CAST] announced a reward of one million rubles, approximately $11,000, for any military personnel who could “retrieve” a THeMIS vehicle in a relatively undamaged condition. 

Estonian robot THeMIS captured by Russians after a two-year hunt
Photo credit: Top War

$22,000 award

Things took an intriguing turn on February 15 when CAST Director Ruslan Pukhov disclosed to the state news agency RIA Novosti that the prize had doubled to two million rubles, roughly $22,000. According to Pukhov, this unexpected increase is likely a reaction to a claim by Estonian intelligence linking the think tank directly to Russian intelligence services. 

In January, Milrem Robotics announced it had delivered 15 THeMIS unmanned vehicles to Ukrainian forces, as per a statement released on the 11th of that month. Feedback from Ukrainian soldiers indicates that these unmanned vehicles have made significant contributions to frontline demining and cargo transportation tasks.

Russia sent a robot to transport wounded soldiers to Ukraine
Photo credit: Telegram

THeMIS captured Russia’s attention at the onset of the conflict in Ukraine. Russian developers were reportedly so captivated by its design that by 2023, a so-called “Russian equivalent” of THeMIS made its appearance on the Ukrainian battlefield. A photo surfaced showing this Russian THeMIS transporting a wounded soldier across muddy terrain. Experts also noted a device installed on the front of the robot, speculating it might be an anti-drone tool. 

If the news of capturing the first THeMIS is verified by additional sources, it suggests that Russian engineers could now develop a more refined copy of the robot, rather than relying solely on photos.

The Estonian ‘Most Wanted’

Kremlin: $22K temptation for capturing elusive Ukrainian robot
Photo credit: Milrem

The Estonian THeMIS robot, developed by Milrem Robotics, is an unmanned ground vehicle [UGV] designed for a variety of military applications. It is known for its modular design, which allows it to be adapted for different roles on the battlefield. 

The THeMIS robot is equipped with a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system. This system provides the vehicle with a combination of electric and diesel power, offering both efficiency and extended operational capabilities. The hybrid nature of the propulsion system ensures that the THeMIS can operate for extended periods without needing frequent refueling or recharging. 

One of the key features of the THeMIS robot is its modularity. It can be outfitted with various types of equipment depending on the mission requirements. These modules can include surveillance systems, communication relays, and even medical evacuation setups. The flexibility in equipment types makes the THeMIS a versatile asset on the battlefield.

Kremlin: $22K temptation for capturing elusive Ukrainian robot
Photo credit: YouTube

The THeMIS robot comprises several critical components, including a robust chassis, advanced sensor arrays, and communication systems. The chassis is designed to handle rough terrain, while the sensors provide situational awareness and target acquisition capabilities. The communication systems ensure that the THeMIS can relay information back to human operators or other units in real time. 

Multiple functions

In terms of operational range, the THeMIS robot can cover significant distances thanks to its hybrid propulsion system. While the exact range can vary based on the mission profile and terrain, the vehicle is designed to operate for several hours on a single fuel load, making it suitable for extended missions. 

On the battlefield, the THeMIS robot serves multiple functions. It can be used for reconnaissance, providing real-time intelligence to commanders. It can also serve as a logistics carrier, transporting supplies and equipment to frontline troops. Additionally, it can be used for explosive ordnance disposal [EOD] missions, reducing the risk to human soldiers.

The THeMIS robot can be armed with various types of weapons, depending on the mission requirements. These can include remote weapon stations equipped with machine guns, grenade launchers, or anti-tank missiles. The ability to be armed makes the THeMIS not only a support vehicle but also a potential combat asset, capable of engaging enemy forces directly.

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