While the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is a joint development between India and Russia, the sale of the systems to Philippines is a transaction between the two countries and we will be able to move ahead on a “bilateral basis”, said Indian Ambassador in the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran, amid the global developments following the Russian war in Ukraine. Philippines was also given clarification on the accidental BrahMos missile launch recently.
“I did have an opportunity to speak to Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and our Ministry of defence has clarified... There was a query and we responded with the fact there was no technical issue as far as we could understand it. There is an inquiry underway, we will have that cleared once the information is available,” Mr. Kumaran said in a webinar on ‘The Philippines: India’s new Indo-Pacific partner’ organised by the Ananta centre. There is definitely a degree of confidence in the system because of the fact that India uses the system widely, he stated.
Stating that the decision to purchase it by Philippines was a high political decision, the Envoy said it was enabled by a combination of factors, but driven by the political understanding between the two countries.
Elaborating he said that the first agreement was signed only in March last year, a second agreement in November and the deal was signed this January. This is a frontline system in the Indian defence forces and the fact that we are will to sharing was appreciated by the Philippines, Mr. Kumaran noted adding, “There is definitely, in terms of the Philippines self defence national security requirements, a clear requirement on the part of their armed force of this capability.”
To a question if China may have an issue with the sale, the Envoy referred to Philippines statement that it sees it as a self defence platform and so he doesn’t see “how this can be a concern in other capitals.”
A Court of Inquiry headed by a two star officer of the Indian Air Force is probing the incident in which the supersonic missile flying at three times the speed of sound was “accidentally released” on March 09 which ended up 124 kms inside Pakistan. Based on initial findings, defence officials had said it doesn’t look like a technical issue but possibly human error which the Inquiry would throw light on it.
Referring to interest from Philippines in acquiring other defence equipment from India, Mr. Kumaran said discussions are underway for systems related to aerospace and Navy. He confirmed that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has offered to do a technical briefing on the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and there is a “degree of interest” from Manila. In addition to Tejas, discussions are also on for rotary platforms.
“There is a considerable degree of interest in Indian equipment in South East Asia and Middle East,” he said in this regard while noting that converting that expression of interest into a contract is a challenge. The recent momentum in relations with Philippines has brought them to the centre of our Act East policy, he remarked.
In the broader trade, Mr. Kumaran highlighted Information Technology and pharma as the major areas. Indian IT companies have set up offices in the South East Asian country and employ large number of locals. Stating that Philippines Government would like to “see some local manufacturing capacity” in pharmaceuticals, he said Indian companies have set up base but there is need for enabling conditions locally before it can be taken up.