India is preparing to send ground systems for the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile to the Philippines, with the missiles expected to be delivered by March of this year. DRDO Chairman Samir V Kamat recently disclosed this significant development in India’s defence export initiatives. Kamat stated that the export process is scheduled to kick off in the first week of February, with the ground systems leading the way. The initial set of BrahMos missile systems is projected to arrive in the Philippines by the end of March. This initiative is part of a substantial defence export contract valued at $374 million, making it the biggest export deal India has ever made with a foreign nation.
The arrival of the missile system coincides with heightened tensions between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea, leading to increased military confrontations in recent times. These missile systems will fortify the Philippines Navy’s capacity to protect its sovereign claims in the region. With one of the longest coastlines globally, deploying these missile units will enhance the country’s overall security.
After receiving the delivery, the Philippines will join a select group of Southeast Asian nations possessing supersonic anti-ship cruise missile capability. Indonesia has been using the ship-based Russian-origin Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missile since 2011. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s military acquired two land-based Bastion-P mobile coastal defence missile systems from Russia in 2015.
Last year, in February, a group of twenty-one Philippines Marines completed hands-on training in India focused on the operation and maintenance of the BrahMos anti-ship supersonic cruise missile, the contract for which was signed in 2022. The Philippines Ministry of Defence announced on 31 December 2021 that it had issued a notice of award to BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd, accepting its proposal to supply the shore-based anti-ship missile system for the agreed price of $374 million. It marked the culmination of the ‘Philippines’ prolonged pursuit to acquire the BrahMos weapons system which would provide the island country with a semblance of deterrence against the Asian giant.
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system, a joint venture between India and Russia through BrahMos Aerospace set up in India in 1998, emerges as one of the most successful missile programs globally. Acknowledged as the premier and swiftest precision-guided weapon on a global scale, BrahMos has substantially enhanced India’s deterrence capabilities in the 21st century. Known as the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, the BrahMos is versatile, capable of launching from submarines, ships, aircraft, or land platforms, cruising at three times the speed of sound, making it challenging for adversaries to intercept. The upcoming newer version of the missile, featuring smaller, lighter, and more intelligent dimensions, is tailored for deployment across a diverse array of modern military platforms.
BrahMos India hopes to secure a subsequent order of approximately $300 million from the Philippines, anticipating an acquisition by the Philippines Army for a land-based version of the missile system.