India Signs 1st Export Deal For BrahMos Cruise Missiles With The Philippines – Reports

The Philippines will be the first country to receive the Indian-made BrahMos cruise missile, considered the world’s fastest supersonic missile.

The two countries have signed an agreement for a potential supply of the weapon, which would boost the Philippines’ coastal defense, according to reports.

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Jointly developed by India and Russia, the BrahMos is a medium-range supersonic (faster than the speed of sound) missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, fighter jets, or land.

The Straits Times has reported that Philippine Defence Undersecretary Raymund Elefante and Indian Ambassador Shambu Kumaran on Tuesday signed an implementing agreement at Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Asian country will be procuring defense material and equipment from India.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was quoted by The Straits Times as saying: “We are buying the BrahMos missiles”. He did not reveal any further details of the procurement.

The agreement has been described by the defense secretary as a guide for the Philippines and India on “policies and procedures in the defense procurement” and will also serve as a “legal framework for the procurement under the government-to-government modality”.

Ambassador Kumaran and BrahMos Aerospace chief executive and managing director Sudhir Mishra had met the Philippine Army and Philippine Marines officials on separate occasions in January this year.

BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is a product of a consortium of Indian and Russian industries.  They have been designed, developed, and produced by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture company set up by India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Mashinostroyenia of Russia.

The name BrahMos represents “the fury” of India’s Brahmaputra river and “the grace” of the Russian river Moskva.

The earliest versions of the supersonic cruise missiles have been in service with the Indian Navy and the Indian Army since 2005 and 2007 respectively. Known as the stand-off range weapons, these types of the missile are fired from a range sufficient to allow the attacker to evade defensive fire from the adversary.

Last year, India had tested an extended range of around 400 kilometers, as compared to its initial range of 290 kilometers, with more versions of higher ranges above 1,000 kilometers currently under development.

Since the missile system can be used as both coastal defense and ground attack, it would provide the Philippine military firepower in the face of threats from Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

The Philippines has been at the receiving end of China’s expansionist plans in the South China Sea. It has recently expressed concerns over China’s new Coast Guard law, which allows the Chinese agency to open fire at foreign vessels at the slightest suspicion.

The latest agreement on the BrahMos missile marks the strengthening of strategic ties between India and the Philippines under the Modi government’s Act East Policy. Don McLain Gill, an international affairs researcher, has suggested Manila may use this partnership to get out of China’s increasing influence in the region.

“China has significantly increased its military capabilities and coercive measures in Southeast Asia, particularly in the disputed South China Sea where Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines also have territorial claims.

China’s expansive claims coupled with its growing assertion and disdain for a rules-based order leave little room for negotiation between it and the other claimants,” he writes for Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

At the same time, the current deal marks India’s increasing defense footprint in the Indo-Pacific. New Delhi had earlier extended a $100-million defense-related line of credit to Manila. The Economic Times has reported that the arrangement was concluded following a foreign ministers-level meet in November 2020.

The two sides had agreed to implement the arrangement through “military training and education, capacity building, regular goodwill visits and procurement of defense equipment”.

The strategic ties have been growing since 2018 when a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on defense and logistics was signed. Another MoU on sharing white shipping information—non-military/non-government shipping vessel information—was inked in 2020.

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