Chinese warships in target, India begins delivery of coastal missile system “Brahmos” to the Philippines

The initial delivery of the BrahMos missile system to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is anticipated for 2023, India's Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran informed the state-run Philippine News Agency in mid-August.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The Philippine Navy’s Marine Corps has begun receiving BrahMos coastal-based anti-ship missile systems from the Indian company BrahMos Aerospace Private Ltd. According to a Philippines military specific YouTube channel DA-REAL Military Channel on December 12, the initial system components are now being approved. There is no official confirmation from India or Philippines.

The initial delivery of the BrahMos missile system to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is anticipated for 2023, India’s Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran informed the state-run Philippine News Agency in mid-August.

The Brahmos Contract

End of 2021, Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana released a “notice of award of contract” in which the Philippines accepted BrahMos Aerospace Private Ltd’s offer to provide shore-based anti-ship missile systems following an intergovernmental agreement.

The order cost was 374.96 million dollars (18.9 billion pesos). The Philippine Navy will buy three batteries of coastal defence systems based on the India-Russia-developed BrahMos cruise missile. In addition to operator and maintenance staff training, the delivery package includes integrated logistics assistance. 

Protecting a disputed territory

The missile will have the capacity to defeat the enemy within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. The Chinese PLA Navy and Coast Guard have been harassing Philippine vessels in disputed areas in South China.

In addition, in an arbitration dispute in 2016, an independent tribunal established under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled with the Philippines against China. However, Beijing does not recognise the conclusion of this case.

The Philippine government has decided to purchase the variant of Brahmos that allows for the installation of launchers along the coastline. Its range of 290 kilometres is adequate to cover a portion of the contested maritime areas, which Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan also claim.

The Philippine government paid an advance payment of $55.5 million (2.8 billion pesos) for the delivery of the system in December 2021. A formal deal for the acquisition of complexes was made with the Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace on January 28, 2022.

“Recently, I signed a notice of acceptance of the terms of the contract for the acquisition of coastal anti-ship missiles for the Philippine Navy. As agreed with the Government of India, it includes the supply of three systems, training of operators and operational personnel, and the necessary integrated logistics support (ILS) package,” wrote the minister on Facebook.

In his post, he stated that the idea was ‘conceptualised’ in 2017 and that President Rodrigo Duterte gave his approval of the initiative in 2020.

Activating Shore-based Defence

The Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile (SBASM) unit of the Philippine Marine Corps was activated in April, and it would be responsible for the operation of anti-ship missile systems. In June, members of the SBASM personnel were sent to India for training.

In addition, the Shore-Based Air Defense System (SBADS) battalion of the Marine Corps has been brought up to full operational status. According to AFP, the SBADS will protect SBASM assets from aerial threats while anti-ship missile launch operations occur.

SBASM and SBADS are sub-formations of the Marine Corps Coastal Defense Regiment, which was only recently formed in August 2020. 

In addition, the Philippine Army intends to acquire two BrahMos batteries for coastal defence operations as part of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), which covers the years 2023 to 2027.

The first export customer for Brahmos Missile

The Philippines became the first export customer for the BrahMos missile system. It is anticipated that the sale of missile defence systems to other Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, will become possible as a result of the agreement reached with the Philippines. BrahMos Aerospace,

The Brahmos line of hypersonic cruise missiles is produced by a Russian and Indian joint company that was created in 1998. Both the Russian National Research Nuclear University of Mechanical Engineering and the Indian Defense Science Organization DRDO were responsible for their development. In 2001, the missile was successfully launched for the first time during a test. The missile, capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 2.8, is used by all three branches of the Indian Armed Forces: the Air Force, the Navy, and the Ground Forces (3,430 kilometres per hour).

The agreement between the Brahmos Company and the Philippines includes a number of unexpected elements, one of which is Russia’s approval. The Philippines is one of the United States’ most venerable allies, whereas Russia is closer to Beijing. In spite of the fact that Russia might not openly explain this position with regard to the Philippines, it most likely maintains the same posture in order to ensure that UNCLOS remains legally consistent.


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