Monday, 23 May, 2022

BrahMos Cruise Missiles

India, Philippines to ink $375m deal

NEW DELHI: India’s BrahMos Aerospace and the Philippines are set to sign a deal on Friday for the Philippine Marines to acquire three batteries of the BrahMos cruise missile in a deal worth almost $375 million, people familiar with the matter said, reports Hindustan Times. 

The development will be a major shot in the arm for India’s efforts to become an exporter of defence hardware, and could pave the way for more Southeast Asian nations to acquire the missile jointly developed by India and Russia. 

The people cited above said the deal would be inked at an event to be held at the Philippines’ department of national defense in Quezon City. Philippine defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana will be among those attending the ceremony.

Lorenzana said on January 14 he had signed the “notice of award” – or the acceptance of India’s proposal for supplying the missile – for the Philippine Navy’s shore-based anti-ship missile acquisition project.

The defence deal will not go down well with China, whose aggressive behaviour in the disputed South China Sea has taken relations with the Philippines to a fresh low. The Philippine Marines intend to use the BrahMos as a shore-based anti-ship missile, and the South China Sea is one of the potential areas where the system could be deployed.

The deal includes the delivery of three batteries, training for operators and maintainers and an integrated logistics support (ILS) package. The deal for the BrahMos was conceptualised as far back as 2017, and the office of the Philippines president approved its inclusion in the military’s “Horizon 2 Priority Projects” in 2020.

Hindustan Times first reported in December 2019 that the Philippines was set to become the first country to buy the BrahMos missile system. Both sides were keen on signing the deal during a proposed visit by President Rodrigo Duterte early in 2021, but the plan fell through because of widespread disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The notice of award signed by Lorenzana on December 31, 2021 put the value of the BrahMos deal at $374.962 million. Last month, the Philippines government allocated 2.8 billion pesos ($55.5 million) for initial funding for the weapon system.

A team from the Philippine Navy visited the production unit of BrahMos Aerospace in Hyderabad in December as part of the acquisition process.

Lorenzana has said the Coastal Defense Regiment of the Philippine Marines will be the primary user of “this modern strategic defense capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines”.

The BrahMos deal is being seen as a game changer as India’s defence exports so far have been items such as avionics, coastal surveillance systems, spares for radars, personal protective items, and offshore patrol vessels.

The deal with the Philippines could open the door for further sales of the BrahMos – which has a range of 290 km and can carry a 200-kg warhead – to other Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia, which have been engaged in negotiations for the weapon system for several years.