Marine Artillery
Date Updated: Saturday June 10, 2006


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M101A1

M101A1 105mm How = 6 per battery (artillery company), four batteries to one FABN.  Standard field artillery piece of the Philippine Marine Corps.  Serves in both the indirect fire or direct fire roles.  Compared to 155mm guns like the M114 or the M68, the M101 is relatively light, easy to move and has a high rate of fire when operated by experienced crews.  It is also a simple weapon which Philippine armorers have a lot of experience in maintaining.

Picture below.  Marine Field Artillery Battalion engaged in fire support operations, 2001 Clearing operations against the MILF.

The howitzer in the foreground, like a lot of Marine equipment, has the latin phrase "Nunquam Iterum" painted on the side of the side of its split trailing arm – "Never Again". Notice too how the equipment is clean and well maintained. On the bottom picture, the scene is a bit different. Notice how both spades of each trailing arm of each howitzer has already dug itself into the ground. Obviously, some firing has already taken place and the troops are waiting for a new set of firing orders.

Pause.  Marines resting and preparing their ammunition for the next round of firing.  Note how the trailing arm spades are already embedded in the ground by the recoil of previous firing.

A Marine Battery rendering honors. In celebration of the Philippine Marine Corps’ birthday 2001.   Note the LVT5’s and 6’s in the background.  2 LVT6HA1s are still operational.  32 LVTH5s are also stored but no longer used.

Additional equipment

M56 105mm Oto-Melara Pack Howitzer

Italian pack howitzer – six upgraded units, extra one upgraded by Floro International (rapid fire mod).  Italian howitzer that can fire the same ammunition as the M101 in Philippine service.  Maximum range of 10.22 kms.  Rate of fire is 4 rounds per minute for 30 minutes.  3 rounds/min for 1 hour. 8 rounds per minute in the anti-tank role.  It can be dismantled into 11 sub-assemblies in 3 minutes and reassembled in 4 minutes by a well trained crew.  The 11 subassemblies can be lifted inside a PAF UH-1.  In the anti-tank role firing HEAT ammunition, it can penetrate 102mm of conventional rolled steel armor.  It is however less effective against modern composite armor.

Mortars

These two types of mortars are used by both the Philippine Marines and the much larger Philippine Army.  Ammunition for both types is either acquired from the US and other sources including local suppliers. These poor mans artillery pieces provide the bulk of fire support for deployed Philippine Units.  Ammunition is relatively cheap as far as artillery goes so PMC and Philippine Army Units have been able to stock up and fire large numbers of mortar ammunition to support local operations (i.e. "large" numbers as in hundreds of rounds within the span of a few days in some recent operations. The larger artillery pieces seldom fire this many in one operation)

81mm M29a1 Mortars – Weight in at approximately 122 lbs.  This mortar can fire mortar shells out to a maximum range of 4,737 meters (a little over 4 kilometers).  Maximum rate of fire for a good crew is around 12 rounds per minute for 2 minutes. Sustained rate of fire of 3 – 5 rounds per minute can be maintained indefinitely without damaging the barrel. PMC battalions are equipped with 4 of these medium mortars per battalion.

60mm Mk19 mortars.  Can reach out and touch someone up to 2000 meters (2 km) away.  PMC battalions are equipped with six (6) mortars each (2 per company [3 companies] per battalion).  While these weapons are long in the tooth now, the barrels are still in good shape and far from worn.  As with the ammunition, repairs to the weapons can also be undertaken locally though some of the ammunition is bought from foreign as well as local sources. 

Air Defense Artillery

To improve it’s conventional warfare capabilities further, the Marines are hoping to have an air defense battalion (part of the HSSB) formed by the middle of 2006.  These will be equipped with the 40mm Bofors guns as well as twin 50 cal machine gun turrets mounted on trucks.

40mm Bofors Mk3

Carriages built locally from guns taken from decommissioned PN ships. The guns themselves were refurbished prior to mounting onto the gun carriages.  A further number of guns are planned on lighter and more mobile gun carriages.

Test Firing

Twin .50 cal

Displaying their ability to adapt existing weapons systems, the Marines are taking gun mounts from decommissioned Philippine Navy Swift boats and refurbishing them.  The intent is to mount these gun turrets on Marine trucks to provide a mobile low level anti-aircraft capability.  They also have a secondary fire support function.  Note that these mounts are exactly the same mounts used by US Navy PBRs

The first refurbished mount is undergoing it’s test fit in the pictures below.  The .50 caliber machine guns have also been refurbished and received new wiring and trigger mechanisms.  Traverse and elevation are manual but firing the guns requires a 24 volt battery.  The mount itself is balanced and spring loaded so the guns are easy to train and elevate onto their targets. 

(Note from ed:  A lead computing gunsight fitted onto these guns would markedly improve their effectiveness in the AA role.  For the ground support role, fitting night sights and/or some form of modern optics would do wonders for accuracy as well but first things first…)

Photos below shows the finished mount sporting Belin Brigade camo colors.  The unit is assigned to the Philippine Marine Ready Force.  A further number of guns and mounts are in the pipeline.

20 mm Oerlikon MkIV

The Marines have recently taken delivery of the first 20mm mount from the Philippine Navy as part of the effort to stand up and equip a Marine Air Defense battalion. Picture below show a marine trying it out for size.  The gun’s magazine lies at his feet.

Many thanks to John for the latest updates.