Re-arming the BRP Gregorio del Pilar

Friday , 2, September 2011 Leave a comment

The following is an excerpt from an ongoing discussion about armament options for the PF-15. This was written by this blog’s owner.  This discussion can be found here:

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It would make sense to rationalize these weapons suggestions by matching them with specific objectives. Once that is accomplished, we can actually classify these suggestions into interim, mid-term, and even long term systems.

IMHO, the following categories make sense:

  • Point defense – these would defend the PF-15 against asymmetric threats (e.g., terrorists on small boats that intend to mount a USS Cole-type attack)
  • Sub-surface engagements – for defense against submarines, mines, et. al.
  • Surface engagements – for defense against hostile ships, boats, et. al. that use more conventional naval combat weapons and tactics
  • Air defense – defense against aircraft and ASMs

Point defense

If we go by how the PF-11 is armed, these would arguably be .50 cal machine guns, and 20mm Oerlikons on the bow, stern, and amidships. If available, 25mm chainguns, like what some Andradas have, could also be employed.

Presumably, these are minimum requirements for the PF-15 to operate in our pirate infested waters (imagine the scandal of having pirates board . . . and God forbid take over . . . the PN flagship). So these could probably be installed during this 30-day dry-dock period, and would likely be retained moving forward.

Sub-surface engagements

Given the time available, we probably won’t see this on the PF-15’s first sortie and will have to wait for a future upgrade program.

However, as horge astutely points out, the PF-15 can actually acquire this capability before that above-mentioned upgrade . . . if we choose the right helicopter:

While the embarked helicopter will be an integral part of the PF-15’s suite of capabilities, it is actually a separate acquisition and can lend PF-15 action options that it wouldn’t have by itself . . . till an upgrade program . . . and presumably after the other two WHECs arrive to temporarily relieve it of patrol duties.

Future options for ship-board weapons options may include Mk.46 torpedoes on deck launchers. But that would probably depend on where the sonar suite will eventually be mounted. Will the future upgrade include the reattachment of the sonar dome on the bow? Will ASW capability be reserved entirely for an ASW-capable helicopter that can both detect and engage targets independently?

No data in this regard yet. Only time will tell.

Surface engagements

At this point, the main surface-target engagement weapon is the Oto Melara 76mm in tandem with the Mk.92 FCS (See here).

The space vacated by the CIWS on the fantail, however, could be leveraged to beef-up this capability.

In the short term, the main gun could be supplemented by a 40mm Bofors. This is a quick win, and while we do not have official confirmation that it would indeed be done, there is historical precedent for this action — as Manokski pointed out with past WHECs — and is quite doable given the availability of guns in the inventory. This gun would also provide the PF-15 with a limited daylight-only air defense capability.

Medium term, the MSI gun with Spike missiles, IMHO, would make sense. Although the gun at the start of the thread falls in the same category as the MSI gun, already-existing training and logistical support for the MSI system makes it the logical choice. This adds eyes-in-the-back as well as a modest punch that is at least at par, if not greater, than what can be done with 76mm shells.

Long term . . . we could be looking at missiles in the Harpoon, Hae-sung, or Gabriel class, along with upgrades to the Mk. 92 FCS to allow for more than just gun-only operation (assuming that hasn’t already been done).

Caveat: No data available about whether or not the Hae-sung or Gabriel can work with the Mk. 92 FCS.

On the Mellon missiles was mounted behind the 76mm gun. Presumably the same could be done for our WHECs. Once mounted, the fantail space could be turned over to another function (see below)

Like the sub-surface engagement systems . . . the right helicopter could jump start this capability.

Air defense

As mentioned earlier, the addition of the 40mm Bofors would provide a limited capability that could be added immediately. This system, however, would be inadequate for modern threats and would have to be replaced sooner than later. For now . . . it would be better than nothing.

If the long-term option above is ever taken, and the MSI RCWS, or its equivalent, is judged to be redundant in light of the embarkation of true ASMs, the stern weapons station could be freed up for an alternative air defense system.

The replacement system would depend on a variety of factors, from how the PN intends to deploy the PF-15, to what additional sensors are added to the ship. Something like an EADS TRS-3D, for example, would arguably extend the range at which we could detect targets and thus give us the option to go beyond Mistrals and similar IR-based systems. Upgrades to the Mk.92 FCS would also play a factor.



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