As per recent defense reports, Philippines Defence Undersecretary Raymund Elefante and Indian Ambassador Shambu Kumaran on Tuesday signed an implementing agreement at Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Under this agreement, the Philippines will be procuring Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles and other military equipment from India.
In response to Chinese expansionism, India has taken a major step towards becoming an arms exporter. India has signed a key pact with the Philippines for the sale of "defense material and equipment", which are likely to include BrahMos cruise missiles.
This is a significant development for two reasons. One the Philippines could be India’s first client for its missile system and second those Indian arms could protect the Philippines against Beijing in the South China Sea.
According to defense experts, the South China Sea has become one of the biggest flashpoints, not just in Asia, but the entire world. China claims the whole of the South China Sea. Five other countries make overlapping claims-- the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Vietnam.
And that is the essence of the conflict over the South China Sea. So the Philippines is pitted against China. India is selling arms to the Philippines. That should explain the strategic significance of this deal. A country that's responding to the Chinese threat with a call for self-reliance.
India and the Philippines have signed what is called an "implementing agreement”. It dictates the terms and sets the foundation for government to government contracts.
But as far as the Philippines is concerned, It wants the BrahMos Missile. The country's defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana witnessed the signing ceremony on Tuesday. In no uncertain terms he has declared and I am quoting.
"We are buying the BrahMos missiles". Now the next step for the Philippines is to discuss a deal to procure the BrahMos.
The BrahMos is considered to be the fastest supersonic missile in the world. Supersonic, means faster than the speed of sound and the BrahMos is known to be a leader in that category of missiles.
Reports say it travels at three times the speed of sound. It can be fired from ships, submarines. Aircraft and ground launchers, the missile itself has a range of 290 kilometres.
The Philippines wants to use the BrahMos system for coastal defense and ground attack. A clear vulnerability considering the growing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. In January China had passed a law. It gave its coastguard powers to open fire on foreign vessels.