PH gets guns for US-supplied ships

by Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Oct 15 2012 11:02 AM | Updated as of Oct 16 2012 12:56 AM

WASHINGTON D.C. - The Philippine Navy will get newer and more powerful guns that could augment weapons for two patrol ships acquired recently from the United States.

The Pentagon recently awarded a $24 million contract to Kentucky-based BAE Systems Land and Armaments for 21 Mark 38 Mod 2 chain guns for the US and Philippines navies.

The Philippines is procuring the guns under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, a US Navy statement revealed.

The Philippine Navy acquired the 1st of two Hamilton-class all-weather patrol ships from the US Coast Guard last year. She was re-christened the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and is the spearhead of the country’s presence in the disputed Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

The US had stripped the ship of her more sophisticated weapons before turning her over. The Mk 38 Mod 2 gun is an improved version of the 25mm Bushmaster that was taken off the BRP Del Pilar.

A 2nd Hamilton-class cutter was turned over to the Philippine Navy last May (re-christened as the BRP Ramon Alcaraz). She is being refurbished and her scheduled arrival in Manila has been delayed to sometime early next year.

Another Hamilton-class cutter was retired in San Diego, California this month. A reliable source said the Philippines was seeing if it could get her as well.

The Mk 38 Mod 2 fires 180 rounds of 25mm projectiles per minute. Its 4-axis stabilized electro-optical sensor provides round-the-clock surveillance capability.

BAE Systems developed the gun with Rafael Armaments of Israel which manufactures the “Typhoon” stabilized marine gun system. The US Navy intensified procurement after the attack on the destroyer USS Cole. They plan to have the remote-controlled guns installed on most of its warships by 2015.

Navy officials say the guns provide improved protection against small threats close aboard and even help crews with more mundane tasks, such as finding channel buoys.

The brochure boasts that “Line-of-fire stabilization enables the crew to effectively engage target in great precision from safe stand-off distance and rough sea conditions.” Operators can follow and fire at a target automatically using electro-optical and infrared sensors and a computer-integrated laser range finder.

If the sensors are disabled, gunner’s mates can manually aim and fire the gun. It has built-in batteries that allow it to operate for 2 hours even after the whole ship loses power.