The FS L'Adroit P725 serves the modern French fleet in the maritime patrol role.
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Credit: The FS L'Adroit P725 patrol vessel with a Schiebel S-100 Camcopter UAV taking off; used with permission.
The L'Adroit is an offshore / deep water patrol vessel currently leased to the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) for the French Navy by prominent shipbuilder DCNS (founded in 1631) for the period of three years (2012-2015). The boat forms part of the four-strong Gowind-class of surface corvettes with a multi-role design nature. This group of boats can be outfitted with varying armament arrangements and can fully support light- and medium-class helicopters as well as UAVs of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing design. Due to its flexible design, the L'Adroit can be called upon to fulfill various mission roles including that of anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, special forces insertion extraction, amphibious assault support, anti-piracy and search and rescue. The vessel is fully modern and outfitted with the latest in tracking, engagement and protected communications equipment. Its outward design form also provides for the smallest possible radar signature. The L'Adroit was first delivered to the French Navy in October of 2011.
The L'Adroit began as a private venture by DCNS to build a corvette style boat for possible use by the French Navy. The vessel was given a displacement of 1,450 tons under full load and crewed by up to 30 personnel. Additionally, the interior can support up to 29 combat-ready marines or special forces operatives. The craft features a running length of 285.4 feet with a beam of 36 feet and draft of 10.8 feet. Propulsion is supplied via 2 x Anglo Belgian Corporation (ABC) V12 diesel-fueled engines in a CODAD (COmbined Diesel And Diesel) arrangement. Water-jets are also installed for precise maneuvering under low power and in shallow waters. The CODAD arrangement utilizes twin diesel engines to drive a single shaft. The engines feed direction into independent clutches which then combine at a gear box prior to reaching the propeller shaft. In this fashion, either or both engines can be used to drive/power the boat - allowing for full power/speed to be reached or more economical travel on a single engine. The water jets also assist during high-speed travel.
The L'Adroit showcases a top straightline speed of 21 knots with a range out to 9,200 miles (8,000 nautical miles) when heading at 12 knots.
The L'Adroit comes complete with recreational spaces below deck as well as sanitation and sleeping berths. A full-service sick bay provides health services for the crew. The engine room is located below and aft of the hull superstructure and ahead of the stern flight deck. A hangar under the superstructure allows small rotorcraft to be stowed. Special forces facilities are under the flight deck along the stern hull face. The L'Adroit holds enough resources to remain at sea for up to 30 days.
The L'Adroit's profile is one of a sleek design utilizing a minimum of deck obstructions. There is a centralized superstructure housing a near-360-degree bridge capped by various sensors and communications arrays. Most notably is the lack of any sort of smoke funnel, the diesel engines exhausting through flush channels aft of the mast and bridge. A boat release is noted along both hull sides (the L'Adroit can launch and recover two 30-foot rigid-hulled inflatable boats, the latter action through a stern-mounted ramp assembly). The forward deck can be left unobstructed (sans armament) or support various mountings for weaponry as required. Aft of the superstructure is a flight deck capable of receiving and launching manned helicopters or unmanned air vehicles. The Gowind-class was designed from the outset to support UAV/UAS functionality. This makes the French Navy the only European power capable of supporting a vertically-launching UAV at this writing (2013).
The Gowind-class of surface ships can be outfitted with 16 x Mica RF or Aster 15 series surface-air missiles. For handling surface threats, she can also support 8 x Exocet, RGM-84 Harpoon or RBS-15 Mk 3 series anti-ship missiles. 4 x torpedo launchers are identified along the hull. The deck design can also support a 20mm, 30mm or 35mm rapid-fire automatic Close-in Weapon System. For extreme close-in defense, L'Adroit can showcase up to eight 12.7mm heavy machine guns. The L-Adroit itself has been rather minimally outfitted with 1 x 20mm cannon and 2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns. The combat system is the POLARIS management suite. Sensors and processing systems include several search radars (air and surface), an electro-optical multi-sensor suite, the Sagem SIGMA 40D series inertial measurement unit and the LinkSrechts Helicopter visual landing air facility. Electronic defense is through a Thales Altesse & Vigile LW Electronic Warfare Support (EWS) and COMmunications INTelligence (COMINT) system along with the Lacroix Defence & Security Sylena decoy system.
To date, the L'Adroit has been active in the Indian Ocean and offshore Asian coastlines in support of anti-terrorism/ anti-piracy actions as well as drug interdiction sorties and maritime policing duties. It has been during this period that the vessel has been used to evaluate the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 helicopter UAV with success since 2012. The goal of the ongoing program is to full integrate French Navy ships to UAV systems for seamless communications to and from the UAV aircraft and surface vessel.
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