The French defence ministry has confirmed its acceptance of the first advanced ECUME RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) manufactured by Zodiac Milpro and has placed an order for 9 boats. The purchase is the first part of an investment option that will ultimately result in the delivery of another 10 of the advanced new boats by Zodiac Milpro. The initial contract follows a detailed and challenging period of testing by the Direction Génerale de l’Armement during which the versatile new RIB was required to prove its suitability as a multi-purpose commando craft.
The ECUME has been developed by Zodiac Milpro International and its Canadian subsidiary Zodiac Hurricane which specializes in the design and manufacture of high speed and high specification RIBs for military and civil use. The design of the ECUME was based on the proven Zodiac Hurricane ZH-935 RIB which was then refined and adapted for the specialized high speed deployment of navy commandos. The ECUME consequently includes numerous features that have been seen to enhance the original design to make it what is believed to be one of the most versatile and best equipped commando boats in the world.
The ECUME will enter service as a multi-mission craft that can be deployed individually or as part of a powerful assault group. The new RIBs will now meet the needs of French Navy commandos operating in three mission areas including special operations, air-sea operations and activities relating to the protection of the maritime approaches. The RIB is suitable for conducting raids from shore or from a naval vessel and can be deployed from any of the principal classes of French navy frigates. The boats can carry the full spectrum of commando weaponry and equipment in addition to advanced radio communications. This will also enable an ECUME to operate as a command post for naval operations.
Because of their speed and load carrying capabilities the new RIBs will also be used for conducting law enforcement patrols as required when they are in service with the French navy. Their deployment capacity has been further enhanced with the inclusion of four air delivery systems (SLE) that enable command and assault versions of the ECUME to be air-dropped into operations from a C-130 Hercules or the new A400M Atlas from Airbus.
The ECUME is 9.30 metres long and is powered by two diesel inboard engines that were designed specifically for the purpose by Volvo Penta. With a maximum cruising displacement of 7 tonnes, the ECUME RIBs are able to undertake long distance raids carrying 12 fully equipped navy commandos at speeds in excess of 40 knots. The key to its on-water performance lies with the use of the unique Zodiac Milpro MACH II (Military Air Channeled Hull). This has been developed to reduce water resistance and enhance directional stability so that higher speeds can be maintained with greater fuel economy and safety. The aluminum or GRP (on the ECUME) air step hull’s low centre of gravity enables the boat to sustain high speeds in demanding sea conditions while retaining the comfort and security that helps preserve the operational performance of its passengers and crew.
Source: Zodiac Milpro International
Date: Feb 18, 2014