PH Navy ship to get new weapons systems

Posted at 10/28/2012 11:28 AM | Updated as of 10/29/2012 8:37 AM

Pentagon awards $1.8M contract for BRP Alcaraz

MANILA, Philippines – The Pentagon has awarded a $1.8-million contract for the purchase of modern weapons system that will be installed in the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF16), the Philippines’ second high-endurance cutter recently acquired from the United States.

In a statement, the Philippine Embassy said the purchase and installation of two Mk38 Mod 2 autocanon systems for the Alcaraz is part of a $24-M contract recently awarded by the Pentagon to the Kentucky-based BAE Systems Land and Armaments Inc.

The BAE contract involves the purchase of 21 units of the remotely controlled naval gun systems and spare parts for both the US and Philippine navies, according to Capt. Elson Aguilar, Naval Attache at the Office of the Defense and Armed Forces Attache at the Philippine Embassy.

The Mk38 Mod 2 is designed to counter high-speed maneuvering surface targets and will be installed in almost all US surface ships by 2015. It was commissioned by the US Navy following the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000.

"The Mk38 Mod 2 will allow the Alcaraz and the (BRP Gregorio) del Pilar to track and fire at targets automatically in both day and night using single shot, low-speed or high-speed automatic fire," Aguilar said.

He added that the autocanon can be fired manually if the sensors are damaged or if the vessels lose power.

The new weapons systems are upgraded versions of the Mk38 M242 Bushmasters, which were removed from the vessel prior to its turnover to the Philippines. The remotely controlled chain gun system can fire as many as 180 25-m rounds per minute at targets as far as two kilometers.

According to Aguilar, the two Mk38 Mod 2 systems will complement the existing weapons system that consists of the Mk75 76-mm Oto Melara main battery and four M2HB .50 caliber machine guns.

The weapons system for the BRP Del Pilar (PF15) will be covered under a separate contract, Aguilar said.

The Alcaraz is set to undergo a general overhaul of her port main diesel engine and further installation of navigational and electronics equipment, which is expected to take 11 weeks.

The 378-foot-long Alcaraz was commissioned in 1968 and served with the US Coast Guard as the USCGC Dallas until it was decommissioned and turned over to the Philippines in May. It is being refurbished and refitted at a cost of $15.15-M.

It is the second Hamilton-class cutter acquired by the Philippines under the Excess Defense Article and Military Assistance Program.

The first, the Del Pilar, was turned over to the Philippine Navy in May 2011.

The Alcaraz was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Philippine Navy officer who distinguished himself during World War II when the patrol boat he commanded was credited for shooting down three Japanese aircraft.