Russian Think Tank Doubles Bounty for Capturing Estonian-Made Military Robot in Ukraine

Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Increases Reward to $22,000
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  • 11:58 AM, February 19, 2024
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Russian Think Tank Doubles Bounty for Capturing Estonian-Made Military Robot in Ukraine

The Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), a Russian defense industry think tank, has reportedly increased the cash reward for capturing an Estonian-made unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) operating in Ukraine to $22,000.

The THeMIS vehicle, produced by Milrem Robotics, a subsidiary of U.A.E.’s state-owned Edge Group, has become a prized asset on the battlefield.

In 2022, CAST initially announced a reward of one million rubles (approximately $11,000) for any military personnel who could seize a THeMIS vehicle in relatively intact condition.

On February 15, the director of CAST, Ruslan Pukhov, informed the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti that the reward had been doubled to two million rubles, or almost $22,000.

The decision to increase the bounty came in response to statements made by Estonian intelligence connecting CAST to Russian intelligence services. A recent report by Estonia's foreign intelligence service suggested that Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) was recruiting academics and think tank experts with foreign embassy interactions. The report specifically implicates Pukhov as a key figure with extensive connections in Russia's political leadership and the Ministry of Defense.

Related news: Milrem Robotics, Ukraine to Create Robotic Systems Based on Battlefield Experience

Milrem Robotics had delivered 15 THeMIS unmanned vehicles to Ukraine's forces as of January, according to a statement from the company. The vehicles reportedly performed well in missions related to demining and frontline cargo transport, earning positive feedback from Ukrainian soldiers.

Gert Hankewitz, Director of Communications at Milrem, humorously remarked on LinkedIn, "Seems like I don't have to work again this week since CAST has doubled their reward for capturing a THeMIS in Ukraine for 2 million rubles, thus doing marketing for me."

The use of UGVs has become prominent in the Ukraine war as soldiers resort to sending robots on dangerous missions due to the immediate detection and attack of troop or vehicle movements.

Milrem is prepared to provide additional THeMIS systems to Ukraine if requested. Hankewitz stated, "We look forward to providing additional systems in support of Ukraine if requested."

The THeMIS (Tracked Hybrid Modular Infantry System) is designed for various military operations, including reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, supply transport, medevac, and explosive ordnance disposal. Equipped with advanced technical features and a modular design, the THeMIS is adaptable to different mission scenarios. It has an operational range of up to 10 hours on a single charge, covering approximately 30 km, and can be remotely controlled over varying terrains.

Russia has deployed its own autonomous ground robots, including a "mystery ambulance" drone. Recent images confirm the use of such robots by the Russian military for transporting injured personnel from the battlefield. The Russian robot's design bears some resemblance to Estonia's THeMIS, but with distinctive features, including an electronic warfare system for protection against FPV drones. The exact model and deployment details of the Russian robot remain unclear.

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