According to 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. The Asian country will be procuring Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles and other military equipment from India.
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was quoted saying: “We are buying the BrahMos missiles”. He did not reveal any further details of the procurement.
The agreement has been described by the defense secretary as a guide for the Philippines and India on “policies and procedures in the defense procurement” and will also serve as a “legal framework for the procurement under the government-to-government modality”.
Jointly developed by India and Russia, the BrahMos is a medium-range supersonic (faster than the speed of sound) missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, fighter jets, or land.
Since the missile system can be used as both coastal defense and ground attack, it would provide the Philippine military firepower in the face of threats from Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
The Philippines has been at the receiving end of China’s expansionist plans in the South China Sea. It has recently expressed concerns over China’s new Coast Guard law, which allows the Chinese agency to open fire at foreign vessels at the slightest suspicion.
The latest agreement on the BrahMos missile marks the strengthening of strategic ties between India and the Philippines under the Modi government’s Act East Policy.
Don McLain Gill, an international affairs researcher, has suggested Manila may use this partnership to get out of China’s increasing influence in the region.