New Equipment For Navy Ships

MANILA, Philippines - A top defense official said the Hamilton-class cutters of the Philippine Navy (PN) will get sophisticated radars and an anti-ship missile system to make the vessels more capable of engaging intruders to Philippine territorial waters.

According to the official, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and the soon-to-arrive BRP Ramon Alcaraz, will be equipped with Harpoon, an anti-ship missile system, and will also be fitted with more sophisticated radars capable of detecting and tracking incoming surface threats and anti-missile and torpedo decoying systems.

The official said the Harpoon is the ideal missile system for Del Pilar and Alcaraz, noting that a sister-ship of the vessels, the USCGC Mellon (WHEC-717), has been fitted with the Harpoon missile launchers and test fired the weapons in January, 1990. Both Del Pilar and Alcaraz were acquired from the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

''These upgrades will make our Hamilton-class cutters more capable vessels. It will definitely satisfy our minimum deterrent capability as far as naval defense is concern,'' the official emphasized.

Del Pilar is currently the biggest ship of the Philippine Navy, while Alcaraz is due to arrive before the end of the year.

The vessels were originally equipped with an AN/SPS-40 air-search radar Mark 92 Fire Control System, and armed with one Oto Melara Mark-75 76mm gun, two Mark K-38 25mm machinegun systems, two Mark 36 SRBOC systems,

one Phalanx CIWS missile defense gun, along with multiple mounted M2HB .50 caliber machineguns, and M240 7.62mm machineguns.

But under the PN service, the weapons and sensor systems were removed with the exception of the Oto Melara Mark-75 76mm main gun.

''With the Harpoon, we will not be getting an unproven weapon system as the missile has been successfully test fired from the USCGC Mellon,'' said the defense official.

He added that the weapons refit might be done in the United States under a government-to-government deal.

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