The Philippines is set to deploy Indian-made BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to boost its maritime defense capabilities and deter China’s aggression in the South China Sea.
The Philippine Navy has ordered three batteries of the BrahMos missile system, which can be launched from land, sea, or air platforms, and can hit targets up to 290 kilometers (180 miles) away with precision and speed.
The deal, worth $375 million, was signed in January 2022, making the Philippines the first foreign customer of the BrahMos missile, which was jointly developed by India and Russia.
The first delivery of the missiles is expected in December 2023, according to the Eurasian Times¹, a news website that covers defense and geopolitics in Asia.
The BrahMos missile system will enhance the Philippine Navy’s ability to protect its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, especially in the disputed areas of the South China Sea, where China has been building artificial islands and militarizing them.
The Philippines, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, have overlapping claims with China in the resource-rich waterway, where more than $3 trillion worth of trade passes through every year.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, based on its historical “nine-dash line” map, which has been rejected by an international tribunal in 2016.
The Philippines has been seeking to modernize its military, which is one of the weakest in Southeast Asia, and has been relying on its alliance with the United States for security assistance.
The acquisition of the BrahMos missile system is also seen as a sign of the growing strategic partnership between the Philippines and India, which share common concerns over China’s rise and assertiveness in the region.
India has been expanding its defense and diplomatic ties with Southeast Asian countries, as part of its “Act East” policy, and has offered to sell its military equipment and provide training and capacity-building to its partners.
The BrahMos missile system is considered one of the most advanced and lethal weapons in the world, and has been successfully tested and deployed by the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The missile can fly at nearly three times the speed of sound, making it difficult to intercept by conventional air defense systems. It can also carry a conventional or nuclear warhead, and can be configured for different types of missions and targets.
The Philippine Navy plans to deploy the BrahMos missile system in strategic locations along its coastline, such as Palawan, Zambales, and Batanes, to deter any potential threats from China or other adversaries.
The Philippine Navy also hopes to acquire more BrahMos missiles in the future, and integrate them with its existing and planned naval assets, such as frigates, corvettes, and submarines.