Philippines on Friday signed a $374.96-million deal with BrahMos Aerospace Private Ltd . for the supply of shore-based anti-ship variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. This is the first export order for the missile, a joint product of India and Russia.
The contract was signed by Delfin N. Lorenzana, Defence Secretary of Philippines, and Atul Dinkar Rane, Director General of BrahMos Aerospace Pvt. Ltd., in a virtual ceremony at 2 p.m. Manila time (11:30 a.m. IST).
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Lorenzana said it was an absolute honour to be the first foreign nation to acquire the supersonic cruise missile system.
“As the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos missiles will provide deterrence against any attempt to undermine their sovereignty and sovereign rights, especially in the West Philippine Sea,” he said. “Equipping our Navy with this vital asset is imperative as the Philippines continues to protect the integrity of its territory and defend its national interests.”
Stating that BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles would certainly beef up the firepower of the Philippine Navy, particularly the Philippine Marine Corps coastal defence regiment, Mr. Lorenzana said the system would provide counter-attack capabilities within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
Tensions have high between Philippines and China over the disputed islands in the South China Sea, and last November Manila had accused Chinese Coast Guard of “intimidation and harassment” of its Navy personnel.
The contract includes the delivery of three missile batteries, training for operators and maintainers as well as the necessary Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package. The coastal defence regiment of the Philippine Marines will be the primary employer of the missile systems.
Terming the contract “history in the making”, Indian Ambassador in Philippines Shambhu Kumaran, who physically represented the Indian side at the event, said on social media that they were today one step closer to elevating ties between the two democracies "to a strategic partnership and our shared objective of a free and peaceful Indo-Pacific."
“It is also a moment of deep pride as India establishes itself as a source of high-technology equipment and a trusted partner towards capability development of friendly nations,” Mr. Kumaran said on Twitter.
As reported by The Hindu on January 14, Gen. Lorenzana signed the ‘notice of award’ on December 31, accepting the proposal of BrahMos Aerospace at a price of $374,962,800. Conceptualised as early as 2017, the Office of the President approved its inclusion in the Horizon 2 Priority Projects in 2020, he had stated.
Several countries have shown interest in acquiring the BrahMos missile. Discussions are in advanced stages with Indonesia and Thailand. India and Russia had long agreed on a negative export list for sale of the missile.
BrahMos is a joint venture between DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and the missile derives its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers. It is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets and has for long been inducted by the Indian armed forces.
The range of the missile was originally capped at 290 km as per obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime. Following India’s entry into the club in June 2016, officials said the range would be extended to 450 km and 600 km at a later stage. The extended range missile has been tested earlier and tested twice- on January 11 from indigenous guided stealth missile destroyer INSVisakhapatnam, and the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha, on January 20.