MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has finalized a contract with India to buy a shore-based anti-ship missile system for over $375 million to strengthen its navy, according to the Southeast Asian country’s defence minister.
The Philippines is nearing the end of a five-year, 300 billion peso ($5.85 billion) initiative to modernize its military’s obsolete equipment, which includes World War II-era cruisers and Vietnam-era helicopters.
Brahmos Aerospace Private Ltd would supply three batteries, train operators and maintainers, and offer logistics support under the arrangement agreed with the Indian government, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a Facebook post late Friday.
The Philippines, as well as other ASEAN nations like Indonesia and Vietnam, would benefit from this first-ever contract to sell the 290-km range BrahMos missiles, which India developed together with Russia. “It is also strategically significant in the backdrop of China’s expansionism and strong-arm tactics with its neighbors in the South China Sea,” a source added.
Apart from training for operators and the necessary integrated logistics support package, the Philippines will receive at least three missile batteries of the BrahMos shore-based anti-ship systems, a deadly conventional (non-nuclear) weapon that flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8.
It was conceived in 2017, but owing to funding constraints and the coronavirus, it was delayed.
The new anti-ship system is designed to keep foreign vessels out of the country’s exclusive economic zone, which is 200 nautical miles long.
The Philippines purchased Israeli-made Spike ER missiles in 2018, making them the country’s first ship-borne missile systems for maritime deterrence.
Despite improved relations between China and the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte, Beijing has maintained its claim to broad swaths of the South China Sea, which transports over $3.4 trillion in products annually. Competing claims have been filed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
The Chinese allegations, however, were found to be without legal validity in a 2016 international arbitration verdict.
India is attempting to create a strong domestic defence-industrial base and become a significant exporter of weapon systems after languishing in the strategically vulnerable position of being among the world’s top three weapons importers for a long time.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa are among the nations that have expressed interest in obtaining the BrahMos missiles, which have emerged as India’s “precision-strike weapon of choice.”
India also intends to sell its indigenously developed Akash missile systems to countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kenya, and Algeria, which can intercept hostile aircraft, helicopters, drones, and subsonic cruise missiles at a range of 25 kilometres.