The Philippine Army has announced that it is keen on buying the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, which was jointly developed by India and Russia.
The Manila Bulletin reported that Indian and Philippines officials had discussed the possible sale of the BrahMos missile to the Philippine Army during a visit by the INS Sahyadri, an Indian Navy warship, to Manila last week. Philippines Army vice-commander Major General Reynaldo Aquino toured the INS Sahyadri.
“The Philippine Army is interested in acquiring this type of missile as it will strengthen our coastal defence operations,” Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, an Army spokesperson told the Manila Bulletin. The publication speculated that the possible purchase of the BrahMos would complement the Philippine Army's activation of its maiden land-based missile battery that falls under its artillery regiment.
The BrahMos, which was originally designed as an anti-ship missile, has a ground-launched variant that can be used to hit ships at sea or targets on land. The ground-launched variant is launched from transporter-erector-launcher. This land-based variant of the BrahMos is operated by the Indian Air Force and Indian Army.
The interest in the BrahMos comes as the Philippines continues to modernise its military after decades of neglect amid concern over China's activities in the South China Sea.
The Philippine Army on October 3 had activated its first land-based missile battery and an aviation regiment in a ceremony.
According to Inquirer, the Philippine Army is planning to buy helicopters including “light attack helicopters, armed reconnaissance helicopters, and multi-purpose medium-lift helicopter”. The Philippine Army is also planning to induct multi-barrel rocket launcher systems donated by South Korea last year.
South Korea has been a major supplier of weapon systems to the Philippines. In October 2016, the Philippines signed a contract with South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries for the supply of two surface warships, which will be the most powerful units in its Navy.
In 2014, the Philippines signed a $417.95 million contract to buy 12 FA-50 aircraft from South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries. The FA-50 is the fighter version of an advanced jet trainer developed jointly by South Korea and the US. The Philippines is also inducting a short-range surface-to-surface missile from Israel for use on its small naval patrol craft.
With a range of 290km, the BrahMos is expected to be a game-changer for the Philippine Army, if purchased, and a potential deal could irk China.
While several nations have expressed interest in the BrahMos, India has yet to secure an export deal for the weapon, which was first tested in 2001. Ironically, the chances of the BrahMos have apparently been spoiled by Russia, which continues to offer its 'Yakhont' missile, on which the BrahMos design is based. Russia has sold the Yakhont to Indonesia and Vietnam.