MANILA -- Having a high rate of fire and the ability to shoot down air targets like missiles makes the Oto Melara 76mm Rapid Gun an ideal weapon for the newly-launched BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), the country's first ever missile-armed frigate.
This was emphasized by Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Captain Jonathan Zata in response to Philippine News Agency's queries on how good and efficient the Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid Gun is.
"It (the gun) is capable of intercepting air targets to include missiles using special munitions," the Navy spokesperson told the Philippine News Agency Tuesday, quoting Offshore Combat Force head, Commodore Caesar Bernard Valencia.
Also, the Super Rapid Gun has a faster rate of fire, around 120 rounds per minute, compared to the current 76mm guns in the PN inventory which is only 80 rounds per minute.
These slower-firing 76mm guns are fitting for the three Del Pilar-class offshore patrol vessels and three Jacinto-class patrol vessels.
Having the Super Rapid Gun fitted to BRP Jose Rizal and the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) -- currently being built -- is ideal as PN personnel are already trained in the maintenance of 76mm guns and compatible with the current munition inventory.
"(And the Super Rapid Gun is) within Approved Budget Contract for the (frigates' weapons systems)," Zata said.
The Philippines and South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) signed a PHP16-billion contract for two missile-armed frigates with another PHP2 billion set aside for its weapon systems and munition in October 2016.
The BRP Jose Rizal was launched at HHI's Ulsan shipyard last May 23 while its sister ship, BRP Antonio Luna, had its keel laid also on the same day.
Aside from the Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid Gun, the ships will be also be armed with an Aselsan SMASH 30mm remote-controlled secondary cannon, anti-submarine torpedoes and anti-air and ship missiles.
It is also equipped with Hanwha Systems' Naval Shield combat management system (CMS), which integrates all shipboard sensors and weapons and decides on which is ideal to deal with any incoming threats.
The above-mentioned system can also detect and track around 4,000 targets and is used in various configurations by the Republic of Korea Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy, and the Indonesian Navy.
The ships measure 351 feet long and 46 feet wide and have a maximum speed of 25 knots and can travel up to 4,500 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 15 knots and can sustain operational presence for 30 days. It is also capable to withstand rough sea conditions up to Sea State 7.
"Each frigate has a complement of more than 100 officers and crew. It has a flight deck located at the stern with the ability to handle one maritime helicopter weighing up to 12 tons. Two rigid-hulled inflatable boats will be carried to conduct military and emergency operations at sea," Zata added.