BrahMos missile deal between India and Philippines

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    • Recently, the Philippines signed a nearly $375 million deal to buy three batteries of the BrahMos missile.

    About

    • The Philippines was set to become the first country to buy the BrahMos missile.
    • The contract includes delivery of three missile batteries, training for operators and maintainers as well as the necessary Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package.
    • Horizon 3 Modernization programme: Acquisition of BrahMos by the Philippines Army is programmed in the Horizon 3 Modernization programme of Philippines (Year 2023-2027).
    • In 2019 the PA had activated its first land-based missile Unit under the Army Artillery Regiment in preparation to induct the BrahMos.
    • Other deals:
      • The Philippines is looking at India for a whole range of military hardware as part of a large scale of military modernisation.
      • Indian company MKU which had supplied Bullet Proof Jackets (BPJ) to the PA in the past.
      • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has received interest from the Philippines Coast Guard for procurement of seven Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters and eight Do-228 aircraft under the $100 million Line of Credit (LoC) extended by India.
      • Indian shipyards had in the past competed to supply small frigates to the Philippines Navy though they lost out to South Korea in the end.

    BrahMos

    • BrahMos is a joint venture between DRDO and Russia’s NPOMashinostroyeniya and the missile derives its name from Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers.
      • It is capable of carrying a warhead of 300 kilograms (both conventional as well as nuclear).
    • Specifications: This version of the missile has been designed to launch either in a vertical or a horizontal mode from moving/stationary assets to target both land and sea targets.
      • The missiles, fired at a speed of 2.8 Mach or nearly three times the speed of sound, significantly increase the capability of the ships in engaging long-range targets.
    • India-Russia synergy: BrahMos missiles are designed and developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture company set up by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Mashinostroyenia of Russia.
      • Originally introduced in 2001, variations of these supersonic missiles can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, and land platforms.
    • The range of the missile: was originally capped at 290 km as per obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
      • Following India’s entry into the club in 2016, officials said the range would be extended to 450 km and to 600 km at a later stage.

    Issues

    • Defence Attaché (DA): While India has signed its biggest defence export contract with the Philippines, it does not have a full-fledged Defence Attaché (DA) at its Embassy in Philippines.
      • The proposal for increasing the number of DAs at several Indian missions abroad, including the Philippines, has been pending for some time.
    • Red Tapism: With India’s growing military diplomacy, the issue of increasing the number of DAs has been long raised but got caught in red tape.

    Significance

    • West Philippine Sea: BrahMos missiles will provide “deterrence against any attempt to undermine our sovereignty and sovereign rights, especially in the West Philippine Sea”
      • It is the official designation for the eastern part of the South China Sea included in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and claimed by China.
    • This deal opens the doors for all defence equipment in India: not just the BrahMos but all the other systems to be exported to other countries.
    • It is a step forward in India’s Indo-Pacific engagement: and established the country as a trusted partner.
    • South China Sea: The Philippine Marines intend to use the BrahMos as a shore-based anti-ship missile, and the South China Sea is one of the potential areas for deploying the system.
    • Firepower: The BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles will certainly beef up the firepower of the Philippine Navy, particularly the Philippine Marines Corps Coastal Defense Regiment.
    • It could also pave the way for more Southeast Asian nations: to acquire the missile jointly developed by India and Russia.

    Way Forward

    • Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are among the countries that have shown an interest in the BrahMos.
      • Thailand and Vietnam have had discussions with the Indian side on the weapon system and an Indonesian Navy team visited India some years ago to explore the possibility of fitting the missile on its warships.

    India and the Philippines Relations 

    • Diplomatic relations:
      • They formally established diplomatic relations in 1949, shortly after both countries gained independence. India signed a Treaty of Friendship on 11 July 1952 in Manila to strengthen and perpetuate the friendly relations existing between the two countries
        •  The year 2019 marked the completion of seventy years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
    • Political:
      • India launched her Look East Policy and intensified partnership with ASEAN in 1992, this also resulted in intensified relations with countries in the region including the Philippines, both bilaterally and in the regional context.
      •  With the Act East Policy initiated in 2014, the relationship with the Philippines has diversified further into political security; trade and industry and people-to-people realms.
      • The Philippines supported India’s candidature for the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for the term 2011-12 and there are regular consultations between delegations of both countries in the UN and other multilateral fora.
    • Defence:
      • The mainstay of bilateral defence cooperation continues to be capacity building and training, exchange visits of delegations and naval and coast guard ship visits. 
      • The Philippines participated in the Def-Expo in April 2018 and is also slated to participate in the Def-Expo 2020 in Lucknow
    • Humanitarian assistance: 
      • The government of India sent an Indian Air Force flight with relief material for the victims of super typhoon ‘Haiyan, which struck the Philippines in 2013.
    • Trade and Commerce:  
      • Economic relations have grown gradually over the years. the India-Philippines trade has, so far, been at around the US $ 1.38 billion (Exports from India to Philippines-US $ 1002.21 million and Imports from the Philippines by India- US $ 367.17 million) in 2019-20 (April-November). 
    • Cultural: 
      • There are regular Indian cultural events in Manila and other parts of the Philippines on events such as National Days (Republic Day & Independence Day), Indian Festivals (Holi, Diwali etc.) and other important events (Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, International Yoga Day etc.). 

    Source: TH