Armed Helos on Philippine 378s

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Photo: A Philippine Navy weaponized AW109 helicopter on board the frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz (formerly the USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716)). Source: Philippine Navy

Janes is reporting that the two former USCG 378s, that are now in the Philippine Navy, will be operating “weaponised” AW109 helicopters.

This is the same helicopter that saw service as the U.S. Coast Guard MH-68A Stingray airborne use of force helicopters. It is smaller than the MH-65, with about two thirds the gross weight and horsepower.

The weaponised versions carry two 12.7 mm machine gun pods, each with launchers for three 70 mm laser-guided rockets (on each pod–Chuck). The aircraft can also be configured to carry a sonobuoy dispenser for anti-submarine warfare operations.

The laser guided rockets will probably be “APKWS II” used by the USN and US Marines, but there are a number of similar systems that convert unguided 70 mm Hydra rockets to small passive laser-guided missiles.

It is not clear if these aircraft will also have the .50 cal. sniper rifle or door mounted 7.62 mm machine gun like those on Coast Guard airborne use of force helos. If they have at least the door mounted machine gun, I would think that seven round rocket pods would be preferable to the .50 cal. gun pods with only three missiles each. If there is no door-mounted machine gun and there is a need to fire warning shots, then perhaps use only one .50 cal gun pod and one seven round rocket pod.

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