The Philippines has become the first customer to complete its operator training of the Indo-Russian BrahMos missile system’s Shore Based Anti-Ship Missile System. The training, which took place from January 23 to February 11, 2023, was conducted by BrahMos Aerospace. The Indian Navy Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Radhakrishnan Hari Kumar, awarded interim missile badges and pins to 21 Philippine Navy personnel. During his speech, he highlighted that the induction of the BrahMos missile into the Philippine Marine Corps will enhance their maritime capability and contribute to collective maritime security in the region. He also emphasized the bonds of friendship between the two countries.
Col Romulo D Quemado PN(M)(GSC), Commander of the Coastal Defense Regiment (Provisional) and End-User of the system, praised the team for their successful completion of the training and expressed optimism about the future of the CDR with the trained personnel. He also emphasized the importance of retaining the knowledge gained during the training.
In a valedictory ceremony, the Philippines Marines were presented with a cultural souvenir called the Laguna Copperplate Inscription (LCI) by the CEO of BrahMos Aerospace, Atul
LCI is approximately 1200 years old which was found in the Philippines. It symbolises the historical and cultural connections between India and the Philippines. The inscription carries Sanskrit, Tamil and Malay alphabets and is considered to be a national treasure of the Philippines. It is placed at the Philippines National Museum in Manila.
The completion of the training is a critical package included in the Philippine Navy Shore Based Anti-Ship Missile System Project Contract signed by the Philippines and India in 2022. This milestone marks a significant step forward in the partnership between the two countries, and the Philippines is expected to receive the first battery of the missile system this year. The acquisition of the BrahMos missile system is viewed as a boost to the Philippine Navy’s capability to defend its maritime borders and will further complement the efforts of the Philippine Navy’s surface assets in patrolling Philippine waters.
Philippines and the China Problem
This development is significant because the Philippines has historically had a challenging relationship with China. The two countries have a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, with both claiming sovereignty over certain areas. The Philippines has long been seeking ways to strengthen its maritime defences, and the BrahMos missile system is a valuable addition to its arsenal
As China’s assertiveness in the South and East China Seas continues to pose a significant challenge to regional stability, countries like the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam are grappling with similar territorial disputes. China’s expansionist ambitions in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, which includes the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, have led to heightened tensions with its neighbours in the region. With China continuing to flex its military muscles, it has become increasingly important for countries in the region to bolster their defence capabilities. The acquisition of advanced military hardware and the development of indigenous defence systems are necessary to counter China’s aggressive posturing.
For the Philippines, which has long struggled with territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, the acquisition of the BrahMos missile system marks a significant step forward in its efforts to modernise and expand its defence capabilities. The system is set to be deployed on the country’s western coast, giving it greater strategic depth and deterrence against Chinese aggression.
Breaking the Barrier: A Lethal Weapon with Multiple Platform Launch Capabilities
The BrahMos missile system is a formidable weapon with impressive technical specifications. It is a two-stage missile that can travel at speeds of up to Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound. This makes it one of the fastest cruise missiles in the world. The missile has a range of up to 290 km, with a variety of guidance systems that allow for highly accurate targeting.
Girish Linganna, a Defence and Aerospace expert, opined that, “the BrahMos missile is also highly manoeuvrable, making it an effective weapon against surface ships and land-based targets. It is capable of penetrating even the most sophisticated enemy defences and is designed to operate in all weather conditions. The missile’s high accuracy is achieved through an advanced guidance system that includes GPS, GLONASS, and an Inertial Navigation System. The missile’s guidance systems include a hybrid navigation system, which includes both inertial and satellite-based navigation, as well as a terrain contour-matching system, which allows it to fly at very low altitudes while avoiding obstacles.”
The missile has a weight of 2.5 tonne, and its dimensions are 8.4 metres in length and 0.67 metres in diameter. The missile has a highly versatile airframe, which can be launched from various platforms, including ground launchers, naval vessels, and aircraft. The missile’s warhead is highly lethal, with the capacity to carry a 300 kg conventional payload.
“The BrahMos missile system also offers a range of operational advantages. It can be deployed from mobile launchers, making it difficult for an enemy to locate and target. The missile is also compatible with a wide range of platforms, including ships, submarines, and aircraft, making it a versatile weapon system” he added.
Strategic Footprint: India in the Indo-Pacific
The export of the BrahMos missile system to the Philippines is a significant step in India’s broader strategy of deepening its engagements in the Indo-Pacific region. The region has witnessed a growing rivalry between China and other major powers, including the US, Japan, and Australia. In this context, India has sought to play a more assertive role in the region, building partnerships with key countries and strengthening its military presence. The export of the missile system to the Philippines can help bolster India’s strategic footprint in the region and enhance its credibility as a reliable partner in the Indo-Pacific.
The BrahMos missile system has emerged as a major success story in India’s defence exports, and its recent export to the Philippines has marked a significant milestone for the country. In recent years, India has gradually increased its focus on defence exports, and the BrahMos missile system has become one of its most successful products. With this export, India not only enhances the maritime defences of the Philippines but also serves its own strategic interests in the region. The sale of the missile system to other countries can deepen India’s partnerships with them and increase its influence in the region.
From a regional security standpoint, the export of the BrahMos missile system can serve as a crucial deterrent to China’s expansionist policies. The missile’s impressive speed and accuracy make it a formidable weapon, and its deployment in other countries around China can help check China’s ambitions. This can be particularly significant in the context of the South China Sea, where China has been assertive in claiming vast swathes of territory and creating military installations. The export of the missile system can also lead to increased cooperation and interoperability between regional partners, enhancing the collective defence capabilities of the region.
The success of this deal with the Philippines is likely to encourage other countries in the region to consider the acquisition of the BrahMos missile system, which will further strengthen India’s position as a key exporter of defence equipment in the region.