The pictures were taken exactly one week ago off Toulon. Arbalète was seen in Toulon’s “Grande Rade”, working last with Tonnerre, two EDA-R (the landing catamaran) and two CTMs (Landing Craft Utility).
The first two EDA-S (Arbalète and Arquebuse) reached Toulon in mid-July. They are now undergoing end-user evaluations, an assessment phase which should last six months. The EDA-S are designed by CNIM and built by Socarenam. We visited the Socarenam shipyard in 2020 when the first two craft were under construction.
CNIM Defense and Maritime Director Xavier Montazel previously told Naval News that « The French Navy will carry out all the sea-keeping, speed, laden and unladen tests » . A particular focus of the sea trials consists in the maneuvers of embarkation and disembarkation from the Mistral-class amphibious ship’s well deck to the beach and dock.
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 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.
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.
The EDA-S are powered with two Scania Di16 engines developing a total power close to 1,200 kW (about 1,600 Hp).
Compared to the ageing CTM, the new EDA-S will provide the French Navy with a number of new capabilities, among which:
- Leclerc MBT capability
- Higher speed
- Better sea keeping (up to sea state 5)
- Deep sea ability to overseas missions
- Ro Ro
- Ability to use both ramps on piers (and not only beaches and slipways)