New Delhi: India’s plans to export BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles may soon be a reality, with the Philippines setting aside funds for the planned acquisition of the shore-based, anti-ship missile system.
The Philippines’ budget department has released initial funding for the acquisition, the Inquirer, a media portal based in the country, reported. Two special allotment release orders (SARO) — worth ₱1.3 billion (Rs 190 crore) and ₱1.535 billion (Rs 224 crore) — were issued by the Philippines’ Department of Budget Management (DBM) on 27 December. The SARO allows the country’s Department of National Defense to finalise contracts for military hardware.
According to the Inquirer report, the Philippines is expected to acquire BrahMos missiles under a “government-to-government deal”.
The move comes at a time when Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is on a military hardware shopping spree, with only six months left in his term. On 28 December, Manila had also signed a ₱28 billion contract with South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries for building two corvettes for the Philippine Navy.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said while India is working on an extended range of the BrahMos missile, the variant that will be exported will be the one with a “normal range” of 290 kilometres.
A key pact after Covid stalled negotiations
The BrahMos — which is a joint venture between India and Russia — is the only supersonic cruise missile in the world that flies at three times the speed of sound (2.8 Mach). It is capable of both coastal defence and ground attack roles. India had offered a $100 million line of credit for the purchase of the weapon.
The Philippines has been eyeing BrahMos missiles to beef up its defence.
Negotiations between India and the Philippines regarding the BrahMos missiles had been going on for years, but hit a roadblock in December 2020, with Manila citing budgetary limitations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In March this year, India signed a key enabling pact with the Philippines — which is in a territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea — that had paved the way for government-to-government deals on defence equipment including BrahMos.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)