Milrem Robotics and the UAE Armed Forces: A New Era in Robotic Warfare and the Reach-S UAS Development

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In a significant development in the field of unmanned military technology, Milrem Robotics, an Estonian company with partial ownership by the UAE-based EDGE Group, has announced a landmark deal to equip the UAE Armed Forces with 60 Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs). This announcement, made at the closing day of the UMEX exhibition in Dubai and concurrently at the International Armored Vehicles (IAV2024) conference in London, marks a pivotal moment in modern warfare technology.

The contract delineates the provision of 40 units of Milrem’s THeMIS UGVs and 20 units of the larger, tracked Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCV), formerly known as TypeX, which are in the stages of development. This deployment is part of the inaugural operational trial program with the UAE armed forces, with expectations of a larger order upon successful completion.

The agreement requires Milrem Robotics to spearhead an experimentation and trial program to integrate unmanned ground capabilities into the UAE Armed Forces’ arsenal. This initiative is seen as a critical enhancement of the Armed Forces’ combat abilities, featuring the deployment of both THeMIS UGVs and tracked RCVs. These systems are notable for their advanced autonomy features, capacity to carry third-party payloads, and sophisticated communication solutions.


Carrying supplies and equipment in combat is often difficult for dismounted units. Due to the soldier’s physical limitations, the weight of additional equipment and heavy weapons often restrict what the soldier can take into battle. 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.

THeMIS Cargo

The THeMIS Cargo is intended to support dismounted troops by carrying everything a soldier would normally carry, thus letting the fighter concentrate on the mission at hand. It can be outfitted with various types of tie downs and restraints to prevent load shift.

THeMIS Combat Support

The main purpose of the THeMIS Combat Support is to assist military infantry or special intervention police units in high threat, riot control and counterterrorist (CT) urban environment scenarios. The THeMIS Combat Support includes a stretcher, a bumper kit, equipment storage boxes and attachments for extra equipment on the fenders that can be adjusted according to the nature of the mission. It can also be equipped with light remote weapon systems to increase firepower in addition to easing the work-load of combatants.

THeMIS Combat with ADDER DM

The ADDER was the first remote weapon station integrated into the THeMIS. This system has been tested in the cold Estonian winter in partnership with weapon station developer and manufacturer Singapore Engineering Land Systems under the supervision of the Estonian Defence Forces.

THeMIS Combat with GUARDIAN 2.0

The GUARDIAN 2.0 by Escribano Mechanical & Engineering provides defence capabilities over short and medium ranges with high firing accuracy and it is a cost-effective solution for defence against asymmetric threats. The system is stabilized and can operate by day and by night. Operational functions include surveillance, target identification and tracking. Ballistic calculations for shooting are programmed into the main computer unit, allowing improved shooting accuracy.

THeMIS Combat with Hero-120

The THeMIS Combat with the Hero-120 by UVision can be equipped with up to six Loitering Munition systems that will provide dismounted infantry and Special Forces units with long-range ISR and firepower combination. Ideal for anti-tank missions or other strategic objectives, the Hero-120 is the largest of UVision’s short-range systems. It carries a 3.5 kg warhead and can endure an extended flight time of 60 minutes.

THeMIS with GroundEye

The THeMIS GroundEye system is the first explosive ordinance detection and disposal unit that has been developed in partnership with Raytheon UK. This unit includes all the capabilities of the THeMIS as well as the following GroundEye features:

… And many others models …

resource : https://milremrobotics.com


Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics, emphasized the strategic significance of this venture, stating, “EDGE Group’s investment in Milrem Robotics has opened new avenues for us in the region, further expanding our international growth and market presence.” He highlighted the project’s role in reinforcing combat capabilities and operational efficiency through advanced robotic systems.

The TypeX RCV, weighing 12 tons, can carry a payload of up to four tons. In contrast, the lighter THeMIS, at 1,630 kg, has a maximum payload capacity of 1.2 tons. Both platforms will be equipped with 30mm guns, with the tracked RCVs featuring an armored turret carrying the 30x173mm MK44 cannon. The THeMIS Combat units will be outfitted with a weapon station mounting 30x113mm M230LF Remote Weapon Stations and Indirect Fire Systems. Additionally, THeMIS Observe units will include mast-mounted radar and camera systems, along with shot detection capabilities.

Milrem Robotics is also responsible for providing comprehensive training and supervision to ensure that the personnel operating these combat unmanned ground systems achieve a satisfactory level of proficiency.

At the IAV 2024 event, Milrem Robotics unveiled a new 8×8 wheeled platform, believed to be developed for EDGE. Simultaneously, at the IDEX exhibition, EDGE displayed a larger 8×8 RCV weighing 23 tons, which is likely to be replaced by this new development. The new platform, weighing 12 tons and carrying 3-5 tons of payload, offers similar surface area as the TypeX but is anticipated to be more cost-effective, faster on road (110 km/h compared to TypeX’s 80 km/h), and capable of reaching a maximum of 50 km/h off-road. Remarkably, this RCV weighs about half as much as comparable manned vehicles but promises equal or superior performance. This positions it as an effective support platform for mechanized formations, heralding a new era in robotic warfare technology.

This groundbreaking agreement between Milrem Robotics and the UAE Armed Forces represents a significant leap in the integration of unmanned systems into modern warfare, potentially setting a new standard for military engagements in the future.

UAE Joins Growing Ranks of Armed Uncrewed Aircraft System Developers

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently made a significant leap in its defense capabilities by joining a growing list of countries capable of developing an armed uncrewed aircraft system (UAS). This achievement is marked by the rapid development of the indigenous twin-boom Reach-S UAS, created by the Emirati defense firm Edge Group. In a span of just 36 months, the Reach-S has evolved from a conceptual sketch to conducting munition drops. Faisal al-Bannai, the chairman of Edge Group, made this announcement during the Dubai Airshow in mid-November.

As of now, the development of the Reach-S UAS is in its early stages. Edge officials have disclosed that the system has successfully completed a series of flight tests and initiated a weapon-release campaign employing its Desert Sting munitions. The next phase involves conducting long-endurance flights. Of particular note is the substantial boost to production, scheduled to commence in the following year, thanks to a colossal order placed by the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, totaling 100 Reach-S aircraft. This order signifies not only the domestic customer’s confidence in the platform but also highlights the UAE’s vision for extensive uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) operations, a vision shared by neighboring nations such as Saudi Arabia.

In stark contrast, European air forces have generally maintained a conservative approach when it comes to the scale of their UAS operations. Their inventories usually include only one or two squadrons primarily focused on medium-altitude, long-endurance platforms, often utilized for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. These nations are gradually exploring strategies to integrate more advanced UAS that can complement their frontline combat aircraft.

The UAE’s order of 100 Reach-S UAS will be added to their already substantial fleet of platforms procured from various sources, including China, Turkey, and the United States. The acquisition of 60 units each of Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 platform and the twin-turboprop Akinci, facilitated through the UAE’s International Golden Group, exemplifies the UAE’s strong appetite for UAS capabilities.

The Gulf state also continues to utilize exportable versions of the General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) RQ-1 Predator, which were initially acquired nearly a decade ago, along with a significant number of Chinese-built UAS platforms. It is possible that some of the Chinese platforms have been phased out with the introduction of the Turkish UAS, mirroring developments in other Middle Eastern countries.

Additionally, Abu Dhabi harbors aspirations to purchase 18 GA-ASI MQ-9B Sea/SkyGuardians, a procurement approved during the Trump administration, along with Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. During the Dubai Airshow, the Edge Group announced a partnership with GA-ASI to integrate several UAE-developed munitions onto the MQ-9 platform. If successful, these UAE-made munitions would mark the first non-NATO weaponry to be integrated onto the platform. However, it is contingent on the completion of the MQ-9 purchase. Similar efforts are underway to integrate UAE weapons onto the Baykar-developed UAS platforms, as these systems typically carry Roketsan-developed munitions.

Faisal al-Bannai emphasized the UAE’s ambition to possess one of the largest fleets of armed drones, characterizing it as a strategic investment. However, the exact reasons behind this significant endeavor remain shrouded in secrecy, as the UAE has refrained from publicly displaying its acquired UAS systems at defense events within the country, in contrast to its willingness to showcase crewed platforms.

The acquisition of a substantial number of relatively low-cost UAS provides the UAE with significant combat mass. Moreover, the capability to operate multiple platforms from a single ground station reduces the dependence on manpower, a persistent challenge for smaller Gulf states. It is also likely a response to Iranian investments in UAS technology, including one-way attack drones that have been sold to Russia.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia is also actively building a considerable fleet of UAS, with plans to locally manufacture Baykar Akinci systems, potentially surpassing the UAE’s numbers.

There are further developments on the horizon for the UAE’s UAS capabilities, as indicated by al-Bannai. The original Reach-S platform is set to evolve into the larger Reach-M, featuring a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 1,500 kg (3,300 lb.) and a payload capacity of 350 kg, compared to the Reach-S’s 600-kg MTOW and 120-kg payload capacity.

In addition to these developments, Edge Group has unveiled its investments in the Polish very-light-jet developer Flaris. These investments are expected to culminate in the creation of a jet-powered UAS called Sinyar, capable of carrying a payload of 450 kg and operating at altitudes of up to 30,000 ft.

As the UAE continues to make significant strides in the field of UAS development, it is clear that the nation is positioning itself as a key player in the global landscape of unmanned aerial systems, with its ambitions extending far beyond its borders.

resource:https://edgegroup.ae/solutions/reach-s

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