On Friday, India’s BrahMos Aerospace and the Philippines signed a deal. The deal is now signed for the Philippine Marines. The deal is to acquire three batteries of the BrahMos cruise missile. BrahMoss is a shot in the arm for New Delhi’s efforts to emerge as an exporter of major defence hardware.
Philippine secretary of defence, Delfin Lorenzana signed the contract. The deal was signed with Atul Dinkar Rane, BrahMos Aerospace chief. They said that the supersonic missiles will “ beef up the firepower of the Philippine Navy”.
Rane mentioned that the deal is the first signed by India for a major weapon system. Also, Rane said “paves the way for many more to come”. He told ANI, “This deal opens the doors for all defence equipment [made] in India. Not just the BrahMos but all the other systems which we are making.” He added a “lot of countries” have shown interest in the BrahMos system. He further mentioned that “making defence deals is not an easy job”.
The Indian envoy to Manila, Shambhu Kumaran, said the deal marked a decisive step. It mentioned that this deal is a beginning for India’s Indo-Pacific engagement. Thus it established the country as a trusted partner. “Today we are one step closer to elevating ties between our democracies to a strategic partnership and our shared objective of a free & peaceful Indo-Pacific,” he tweeted.
Hindustan Times reported, Philippines was the first country to buy the BrahMos missile. The news was then reported in December 2019. Both sides were set on signing the deal during an arranged visit by President Rodrigo Duterte. The meeting was arranged in early 2021. However, the plan fell through due to widespread disruptions caused by the Covid-19.
The defence deal will not go down well with China. China’s behaviour in the South China Sea resulted in its relations with the Philippines to a low. The Philippine Marines intend to use the BrahMos as a shore-based anti-ship missile. The South China Sea is one of the potential areas for deploying the system.
“The BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles will certainly beef up the firepower of the Philippine Navy. Particularly the Philippine Marines Corps Coastal Defense Regiment,” Lorenzana said in his remarks at the signing ceremony. The signing ceremony was initially conducted via video and a face-to-face meeting. It was also attended by officials of both countries.
“Its system will provide counter-attack capabilities within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ). As the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos missiles will provide deterrence against any attempt to undermine our sovereignty and sovereign rights, especially in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
Lorenzana said the acquisition of the BrahMos missiles was first done in 2017. In 2020, under the military’s revised modernisation programme, President Duterte approved its inclusion. It got included in the “Horizon 2 Priority Projects”. He added: “Equipping our navy with this vital asset is imperative as the Philippines continues to protect the integrity of its territory and defend its national interests.”
Earlier, Lorenzana had signed the “notice of award”. It’s basically the acceptance of India’s proposal for supplying the missile. This is for the Philippine Navy’s shore-based anti-ship missile acquisition project. The deal included the delivery of three batteries. It also included training for operators and maintainers. An integrated logistics support (ILS) package is also added.
The Philippine Army is also interested in acquiring the BrahMos. Thus a separate deal is likely to be soon concluded later this year. Another deal can get signed according to people familiar with the matter. Friday’s deal could also pave the way for more Southeast Asian nations to acquire the missile. The missile was jointly developed by India and Russia.
The countries which have shown interest in BrahMos are Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. The BrahMos missile has a range of 290 km and can carry a 200-kg warhead. Thailand and Vietnam have discussed with the Indian side on the weapon system. An Indonesian Navy team also visited India some years ago. They did so to explore the possibility of fitting the missile on its warships.