Nexter has unveiled an armed version of Milrem’s THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), called the OPTIO – X20, that integrates the former’s 20 mm ARX 20 remote controlled weapon station (RCWS) on the latter’s platform.
The OPTIO – X20 has been produced as a technology demonstrator to confirm that a medium-size UGV can be fitted with a larger calibre weapon, rather than the traditionally mounted .50 calibre. The system prototype was unveiled at Eurosatory 2018, held from 11–16 June in Paris.
Nexter has traditionally produced small (40x40 cm) 4-wheeled (or optionally tracked) robots such as the Nerva – which is operated by the French Special Forces, marines, and specialised applications for Police Forces – but is now looking at entering the medium-sized UGV market.
The OPTIO – X20 system consists of two identical track modules that contain the electronics and mechanical components for the vehicle's mobility. A payload bay area between the two modules can be used for transporting equipment and for integrating various payloads; besides weapon stations these can include counter-improvised explosive device (C-IED) systems, and potentially casualty litters and manipulator arms, among other things.
According to Milrem, THeMIS can carry a load of at least 750 kg and the company is confident of its ability to be able to carry up to 1,000 kg. THeMIS can travel at speeds of up to 22.5 km/h, which is sufficient to follow soldiers at walking speed and perform faster manoeuvres, if required. The system can be operated under direct remote control or with varying degrees of autonomy. An increase in size and weight to the THeMIS was announced in October 2017 and, although larger than the original, the newly designed platform is said to be more stable. This stability is important when larger calibre weaponry is mounted, such as the ARX 20.
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