|The BRP Ramon Alcaraz in Cebu. For those with very good eyesight, the Mk. 38 Mod. 2 gun platform on the port side can be seen on this angle. It is just behind the red-colored RHIB.|
Photo taken from Cebu Daily News / Inquirer.net
Since the report regarding the acquisition of this gun system involves only for 2 units, it was even anticipated that the PN would either arm one gun system each to the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, or only 1 of the ships will have both guns. Previous statements coming from Navy officials even pointed out that the older Gregorio del Pilar was the chosen ship to get both guns, without mention if the Ramon Alcaraz will also be getting as well.
|The actual Mk.38 Mod.2 gun on BRP Ramon Alcaraz. This looks like on the starboard side.|
Photo taken from Geminirecon @ Timawa Forum.
|The port side of the ship also shows the presence of the Mk.38 Mod.2 weapons mount.|
Thanks to one of our MaxDefense reader who wants to remain anonymous, who went inside the ship and took some photos.
|Rear photo of the gun showing the ammunition loading system.|
Photo shared by a MaxDefense reader.
But here we now have some evidence that the BRP Ramon Alcaraz was indeed fitted with the guns. Several online social media sources, including those from MaxDefense readers who shared their photos confirming that there are indeed 2 guns in the said ship, both fitted on the midship port and starboard deck sides. The ships was available for viewing to the public as it was docked in Cebu after providing naval and air security during Pope Francis' visit in Tacloban City last week.
|An Mk. 38 Mod.2 weapons system installed on a US Navy vessel.|
Photo taken from Wikimedia,
It is worth noting that aside from the Oto Melara 76mm Compact main gun, the PF-16 has no other weapons before the installation of the 25mm chain guns other than several 50-caliber machine guns. Meanwhile its sistership PF-15 has two 20mm gun at the superstructure midships and a manually-operated Mk.38 Mod.0 chain gun at the ship's tail end.
The BAE-Rafael Mark 38 Mod. 2 Close-in Weapons System:
For the uninitiated, the Mk. 38 Mod. 2 gun system is a remote manually controlled 25mm gun station commonly found on US Navy ships. Produced by BAE Systems and Rafael and of Israel, two units were ordered as part of a larger order made by the US Navy. This is the newer and remote-control capable version of the Mk. 38 Mod. 0 gun system which is used by the Philippine Navy on several of its Andrada-class patrol boats, the Cyclone-class BRP Gen. Mariano Alvarez, and the secondary gun mounted on the aft of the PF-15. It uses a 25mm Bushmaster M242 chain gun and was designed to protect the ship at close range from small fast surface and slow aerial threats. US Coast Guard personnel were reportedly part of the installation team as the PN doesn't have the adequate experience to do the job on their own. For further information, MaxDefense recommends the manufacturer's website (link HERE).
|A closer look of the PN's new Mk.38 Mod.2 gun mounted on the BRP Ramon Alcaraz.|
Thumbs up to the PN and to our friend who went there and share these photos to us.
Each of the gun mount has its own EO system that allows the gun to be used on day & night and all weather conditions. Controls of the gun is done on a console with its own video feed screen, and the gun is trainable by joysticks.
|An example of what the Mk.38 Mod.2 control console looks like.|
Aside from the Mk. 38 Mod. 2, the other remote-operated close-in weapons system the Philippine Navy currently uses is the MSI 25mm Seahawk mounted on the Jacinto-class patrol corvettes, which also uses the same 25mm M242 Bushmaster gun.
With the entry of this system into the Philippine Navy, it is expected that the same system might be acquired to arm several types of upcoming ships, including the Strategic Sealift Vessel which has already started construction and requires at least 2 mounts per ship, and the new light frigates which are being tendered.
Other Interesting Finds on the Ship:
Aside from the installed guns, there are other points of interest that MaxDefense wants to share here:
A photo of the display console of the ship's Kelvin Hughes MantaDigital surface search and navigation radar system was also made available again. Until more capable radar systems become available for the ship, this would remain as the main eyes of the ship.
|A PN crew member discuss the use of the surface radar display console to the visitors.|
Photo shared by one of our MaxDefense readers who wants to remain anonymous.
Another interesting photo involves the shipboard AW-109 naval helicopter. It appears to be a normal now to see the helicopters paired together with the frigates. It may also be interesting to take note on how the aircraft is restrained on the flight deck when not in use.
|The AgustaWestland AW-109 Power naval helicopter on the ship's flight deck.|
Photo shared by one of MaxDefense's readers.
Finally, although already confirmed before, the Philippine Navy has changed the Philippine Fleet's sub-unit's name where the frigates are assigned under their recently made restructuring program based on capability. Previously known as Patrol Force, it is now known as the Offshore Combat Force, in anticipation of the greater role the unit will undertake in the near future as more assets arrive. Its logo can been seen on the PF-16's superstructure near the Mk.38 Mod.2 guns. The other Philippine Fleet units that were also renamed as the Littoral Combat Force (formerly the Coastal Patrol Force), and the Sealift & Amphibious Force(formerly the Service Force).
With the BRP Ramon Alcaraz having its close-in gun systems, we now wait for its sistership BRP Gregorio del Pilar to have a similar weapons system, as well as for the 2 ships to get their highly-anticipated long-range surface and air search radar systems, and the defense/offensive missile systems as discussed in previous MaxDefense blog entries. With the year 2015 still in its infancy, expect more news on the upgrade of the 2 ships, especially with the impending awarding of the PN's new frigates coming very soon.