Philippines became the first country in the region to acquire the BrahMos cruise missile system jointly developed by India and Russia. The ripples for this deal—years in the making—is likely to be felt for a while.
The deal is worth 374.9 million dollars and is a significant step forward for India as a regional security provider as well as a defence exporter. The Philippines is not the only country interested in the missile system. Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, too, have shown interest. India hopes that there will be exports to the UAE, too.
For India, the deal does more than just bolster its capability image as a defence exporter—it is also a strategic signal to China. Especially since the missile system will be used by the Philippines to defend itself against China.
Philippines' acquisition of the missile system is an assertion of its strength. Of late, the country has been adding to its military strength in a region that is steadily becoming more volatile. Fifteen Black Hawk helicopters were bought last year.
India has been steadily strengthening its military exports, as part of its AatmaNirbhar initiative. “Our defence exports have increased by 325 per cent in the last five years. It is our target that our companies not only establish expertise in their products, but also become global brands," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in October. Both private and public sectors were working together.
According to figures submitted in a reply in Parliament, the defence ministry stated that India has exported defence equipment worth Rs 8,434.84 crore in 2020-21 compared to Rs 1,940.64 crore in 2014-15.
In response to a question in Parliament in 2020, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik, in a written reply to Rajya Sabha, stated that India was exporting military equipment to 42 countries, including Azerbaijan, Seychelles, Estonia, Indonesia, Guinea, Singapore and Germany.
India was exporting mortar shell covers to Israel, night-vision binoculars to Thailand, sleeping bags to Guinea, bullet-proof helmets, bomb-suppression blankets and soft armour panels to Germany, hard-armour plates to the Netherlands and the US. Exports to Qatar, Lebanon, Iraq, Uruguay, Japan and Egypt were also in the protective body equipment category.