The EDA-S, or Landing Craft Assault (LCA) for the export market, « has now gone from a paper ship to a real ship, as we are on tracks to deliver the first two EDA-Ss to the French Navy », Montazel explains. A total of 14 EDA-S should be procured by the French MoD to replace an ageing fleet of CTM LCUs. The contract awarded in January 2019 for now includes the delivery of the six first vessels.
The first builder sea trials are scheduled for January 2021. This should normally have taken place in September but the COVID-19 crisis caused a three months shut down at Socarenam, which is in charge of assembling the vessels at its Saint-Malo shipyard. Naval News toured the facility located in Britany back in June this year to see the first two EDA-S taking shape.
Delivery of the first two ships to the French Navy for end-user evaluations is planned for the beginning of March 2021. This assessment will last six months and will take place in Toulon. « The French Navy will carry out all the sea-keeping, speed, laden and unladen tests » Montazel details. A particular emphasis will be placed on maneuvers of embarkation and disembarkation from the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship to the beach and dock.
The EDA-S has been specifically designed to carry the French Army’s Scorpion family of vehicles, the Griffon, Jaguar, Leclerc XLR and Serval. It will thus be able to transport a main battle tank, which the CTM does not allow. « There are plans to test each of these vehicles in the different loading, beaching and dock configurations, » says Montazel.
The actual launch into production of the following four vessels will take place at the end of the testing period for delivery by the end of 2022. « The 2021 testing period could indeed lead CNIM to modify and/or improve the following vessels, depending on the feedback from the French Navy ».
The first tranche should be followed by orders for a total of 8 additional vessels, that the French MoD can notify in groups of two, four or eight vessels. « Notification of the next tranche is currently scheduled for 2023, but we hope that it is triggered earlier to take advantage of te production series effect» announces Montazel.
« CNIM clearly wishes to bounce back on the qualifications, the first demonstrations and the implementation of the EDA-S in order to be able to offer it to a certain number of countries which may need to renew their capacity in the next two to three years ».
Xavier Montazel, head of CNIM Defense and Maritime Division
The Netherlands, first, have launched a program now at RFI stage. Australia is expected to follow the move and initiate a replacement program next year.
CNIM’s LCX multimission landing craft
Naval News also got some fresh news from the LCA’s false twin, the LCX multimission landing craft. While still a paper design, the LCX has already drawn attention from a NATO country in addition to the interest already shown by the French customer. « For the moment, the market is turned towards conventional type vessels, but a potential opportunity is emerging to support less conventional forces ».
About CNIM’s EDA-S
Unveiled at Euronaval 2018, the EDA-S will conduct amphibious operations from the well decks aboard Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, carrying troops, military equipment or vehicles.
The EDA-S and in-service EDA-R are complementary in terms of mission capabilities and speed; they have similar load capacities (the EDA-S is designed to carry 65 tonnes in its nominal load configuration, and has a maximum load of 80 tonnes, equivalent to the nominal load of the EDA-R. ) and are both able to conduct amphibious operations in very shallow water (<1m deep). Aboard a Mistral-class LHD, the French Navy can sail with either four EDA-S or two EDA-S and an EDA-R, as required.
Four meters longer than its predecessor, the EDA-S is also twice as fast with a maximum speed of 16 knots, thanks to a (three times) more powerful propulsion arrangement. EDA-S can sail 300 nautical miles with a 1,2m draft at a full load identical to that of an EDA-R. It can beach in very shallow water (less than a meter in depth). With a maximum carrying capacity of 80 tons, the EDAS now allows the carriage of a Leclerc main battle tank, a capacity that was not possible with the ageing CTM. Its stern ramp now provides a roll-on roll-off capability, avoiding a time-consuming turn around maneuver. In a similar fashion to a roll-on roll-off vessel, this configuration allows the EDA-S to access a wider range of docks. Last but not least, EDA-S is fully compatible with NATO (San Antonio class for example) and even smaller, non NATO (Makassar-class for example) well decks.