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SOFINS 2017: Maritime Aspects of the Show

Platforms currently in service or being offered detailed

The French Special Operations Command maritime components and industry partners exhibited an array of specialist insertion, extraction and fire support platforms at the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) this week.


Platforms are currently in service or being offered up to the FORFUSCO Force Maritime des Fusiliers Marins et Commandos Marine which is headquartered in Lorient and comprises five Commando Assault Units; a Commando Support Unit; and Operational Support Unit.

Force elements include Trepel and Jaubert Commando Units, specialising in Counter-Terrorism; Montfort and De Penfentenyo, which concentrate on Special Reconnaissance and Direct Action; and the Hubert Commando Unit which is made up of Combat Divers specialising in sub-surface operations.

French Navy Commandos conduct high priority missions for the French Special Operations Command and the French Navy,” a FORFUSCO spokesperson explained to MILITARY TECHNOLOGY at the event on 30th March.

Each Combat Commando unit has common capabilities such as combat, intelligence, ground, air and sea infiltration with the most recent addition to the Command [The Operational Support Unit] providing the Navy Commandos with operational means,” it was added with reference to waterborne crafts, tactical vehicles, information and communications technology.

Examples exhibited at SOFINS included the Multi-Purpose Command Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat or ECUME which FORFUSCO operators described to MILITARY TECHNOLOGY as being used for maritime counter-terrorism duties including: Anti-piracy visit, board, search and seizure missions; hostage rescue operations; counter-narcotics operations; as well as amphibious and maritime attacks from harbours, vessels and aircraft,

Capable of being inserted by precision airdrop (with future options expected to include Airborne Systems’ Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System or MCADS), the ECUME is powered by a pair of inboard diesel engines with modular deck capable of being configured for a variety of special operations, it was added.

Also on show was FORFUSCO’s Riverine Combat Vessel or EFC, which can be tasked with missions including the insertion and recovery of a special operations team by river, lagoon or coastal route.

The vessel provides a powerful fire support base fitted with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun, automatic grenade launcher or Gatling gun as well as two pairs of MAG 58 7.62mm machine guns with ballistic protection for the firer.

Elsewhere in the surface environment, Nautiraid displayed a mock-up of its HPM Light Self-Inflating Craft which can be fitted with a C4ISTAR mission suite including communications and geo-location systems.

A company spokesperson explained to MILITARY TECHNOLOGY: “The HPM is designed for infiltration and intelligence missions for amphibious special forces. It has been conceived with the aim of enabling operators from special units to infiltrate by craft with all the necessary equipment.”

It expands the field of action and the speed of action compared to traditional crafts thanks to its electric powered hydrojet turbine, allowing an operator to carry his weapon and drive at the same time thanks to a controller mounted on his Picatinny Rail [Adaptor System],” it was explained.

The craft can also be used for a shelter or camouflage system for riverine and littoral reconnaissance missions, as well as personnel recovery vessel, SOF sources also described.

Operating at a maximum speed of 10 knots, the HPM measures 3.5m in length and weighs 40kg without inflating bottles which can be used if the vessel is deflated and cached following insertion into a target area.

In the sub-surface environment, FORFUSCO displayed its Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV), as manufactured by STIDD although the force is awaiting delivery of its next-generation solution- the Special Warfare Underwater Vehicle (SWUV), currently in development with ECA Group.

Capable of carrying up to eight personnel, including a crew of two, the dry SWUV can be tasked with combat diver insertion; maritime and littoral intelligence missions; as well as underwater demolitions.

Additionally, Alseamar Alcen displayed a scale model of its Sphyrene SDV solution which has the capacity to carry a total of six Combat Divers in a dry combat submersible configuration.

The vehicle is the latest generation to transport Navy SEALS for special operations warfare,” company literature reads. “It has been designed to provide the best ergonomics and performance for Combat Swimmers.”

With an all up displacement of 4.5 tons and measuring 8m in length and 1.45m in diameter, the boat has a top speed of 9 knots; maximum range of 70 nm; and capacity to dive to a depth of 100m.

The vessel has been designed to conduct manoeuvrability and accurate navigation with integrated VHF, UHF and SATCOM communications suite as well as optronics telescopic mast for special reconnaissance missions.

Andrew White

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