Modi Supports Philippines with BrahMos Missiles in China Sea Dispute


Team Udayavani, Apr 21, 2024, 10:15 PM IST

On Friday, April 19, 2024, India completed the delivery of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to the Philippines, fulfilling a $374.96 million (approximately Rs 2,700 crores) agreement signed in January 2022. The first batch of missiles arrived on two IAF C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift aircraft, marking a key step in strengthening ties between India and Manila. This development not only reinforces the partnership but also highlights India’s diplomatic capabilities. Moreover, other nations such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia have expressed interest in acquiring the BrahMos missile system.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the delivery of the missiles during an election rally in Damoh, Madhya Pradesh, where he also celebrated the achievement with the nation.

The BrahMos missile sale was conducted through a government-to-government deal. This agreement includes three missile batteries, training for operators and maintenance staff, and the required Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package.

A single missile battery generally includes three mobile autonomous launchers, each fitted with two or three missile tubes and tracking systems. From submarines, ships, aircraft, or land platforms, two missiles can be launched within 10 seconds.

The Philippines received a shore-based or coastal based version of the BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile from India, which has a range of 290 km. While India possesses BrahMos missiles with longer ranges, the version supplied to the Philippines is the original, shorter-range model.

The BrahMos stands out as the world’s only supersonic cruise missile, capable of reaching speeds three times faster than sound (Mach 2.8 or 3457.4 kms /hr). It can be used for both coastal defense and ground attack missions.

The BrahMos missile, a joint venture between India and Russia, can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, or from the ground. Sources indicate that the missile is currently in a phase where 83 percent of its components are being made in India.

Following India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which lifted restrictions on missile ranges, an extended-range version of the BrahMos was developed. The goal was to initially increase its striking distance to 450 kilometers.

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) specifically focuses on controlling the spread of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of delivering payloads of at least 500 kilograms over distances of 300 kilometers or more. This threshold is intended to restrict the spread of technology that could be used for delivering weapons of mass destruction.

Philippine Navy Training Completion

In February 2023, 21 members of the Philippine Navy successfully completed operator training for the missile system.
According to the Philippines Marine Corps, the Indian Navy’s Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R Hari Kumar, awarded interim missile badges and pins to the trainees at a closing ceremony for the operator training of the Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System (SBASMS).

The training took place from January 23 to February 11, 2023, and covered the operations and maintenance of crucial logistics packages for the Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System (SBASMS) destined for the Philippines.

BrahMos Missile Sale Impact

The sale of BrahMos missiles marks a significant moment for India, as it supplies strike weapons to the Philippines, a country engaged in a territorial conflict with China in the South China Sea.This strategic action occurs in a region important to both countries.

Although these missiles have a range of 290 kilometers, as limited by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), they cannot reach the Chinese mainland. However, they can deter Chinese warships from getting too close to the Philippine coast.

Increased Philippines-China Tensions

Tensions between the Philippines and China have increased over the last two years, mainly because of disagreements over Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

The dispute over Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands primarily involves territorial and sovereignty issues in the South China Sea. These areas are claimed by multiple countries, including China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei, due to their strategic location and potential resources like oil, gas, and fishing grounds.

Scarborough Shoal: Scarborough Shoal is not an island but a chain of reefs and rocks, forming a triangle-shaped atoll that spans about 150 square kilometers. The Shoal does not have any permanent residents. It is renowned for its rich marine biodiversity and is a significant fishing ground. There are also suspected underwater mineral resources in the area.

Spratly Islands :The Spratly Islands consist of around 100 small islands or reefs, covering a vast maritime area but with a total land surface of less than 5 square kilometers. These islands are sparsely populated, primarily by military personnel from various countries who occupy different parts, with the total population under 200 people. There are no indigenous civilian populations.

Resources and Significance: Both the Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands are crucial for their strategic maritime positions and potential resource reserves, including fish, oil, and natural gas. The disputes over these territories are driven by these factors, with several nations claiming parts of the regions to assert control over valuable resources and strategic advantages.

By Girish Linganna, Defence & Aerospace Analyst

( The author of this article is a Defence, Aerospace & Political Analyst based in Bengaluru. He is also Director of ADD Engineering Components, India, Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany. You can reach out to him at: [email protected])

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