Wednesday, May 29, 2024

After The Philippines Marine Corps, Army Too Interested In India’s BrahMos Missiles

By Aritra Banerjee

India’s domestically developed BrahMos supersonic cruise missile systems are set to be delivered to Philippines before the end of this year. The move is expected to lead to a marked enhancement of regional maritime capabilities. The arrival of these high-tech defence assets is likely to bolster the Philippines’ ability to safeguard its coastal and territorial waters. Further, it will also address areas of weakness in sea control, anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD), and coastal and island defence operations.

The versatile BrahMos cruise missile, with a peak speed of Mach 2.8 or approximately 3,400 kilometres per hour, can be launched from a ship, aircraft, submarine, or land. The weapon is capable of carrying warheads weighing between 200 to 300 kilograms. The Philippines Marine Corps (PMC), with its newly established shore-based anti-ship missile (SBASM) battalion under the Coastal Defense Regiment (CDR), will operate the missile system.

Significance Of BrahMos For The Philippines

The importance of a dependable coastal defence system cannot be understated in this era of maritime security. Shore-based missile systems, such as the SBASM, play a pivotal role, offering a potent deterrent while maintaining a defensive stance. 

Former DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana anticipated that the acquisition of the BrahMos cruise missile system would afford the Philippine exclusive economic zone potent counter-attack capabilities. Furthermore, the missiles, recognised as the fastest supersonic cruise projectiles in the world, will act as a powerful deterrent to any incursions on Philippine sovereignty, particularly in the West Philippine Sea.

End-User Training: A Key Component Of The BrahMos Deal

A state-of-the-art weapons system requires end-users to cut their teeth on the platform. In order to achieve its operational readiness the $375 million BrahMos missile deal included training as a crucial component of the arrangement.

21 personnel from the Philippine Navy (PN) were awarded interim missile badges and pins by the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) of the Indian Navy, Admiral R Hari Kumar, following their successful completion of SBASMS operator training at BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL) facilities earlier this year.

The training focused on the operations and maintenance of critical logistics packages of the SBASMS, which will soon be delivered to the Philippines. The training was viewed as a crucial component of the Philippine Navy’s Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System Project Contract, signed by the Philippines and India.

As pioneers of the system, each officer, enlisted personnel, and civilian human resources (CivHR) demonstrated their capacity as exemplary ambassadors of their country, according to Adm. Kumar. He expressed his hope that the bonds built during the training would be cherished for years.

Colonel Romulo D. Quemado, Commander of the CDR, praised the successful training outcome and expressed optimism for the unit’s future operations, given the new skills honed by his personnel.

In 2022, the Philippines and India entered into a contract as part of the PN SBASM project, encompassing this essential training. As Col. Quemado highlighted, this investment by the Filipino people is considered a significant step forward in augmenting the PN’s capabilities to defend the country’s maritime borders.

In a notable development earlier this year, on 28 January, the Department of National Defense (DND) officially entered into a contract for the acquisition of the BrahMos missiles. Former DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and BrahMos Aerospace Director General Atul Dinkar Rane validated the Philippine Peso (PHP) 18.9 billion agreement, with the contract envisaging the procurement of three missile batteries for the country.

Philippine Army Next? 

A scale model of a ground based launcher for the Brahmos missile. Photo taken during the 2016 Asian Defence and Security (ADAS) Trade Show at the World Trade Center in Pasay, Metro Manila

Turning to the future, the Philippine Army (PA) also expressed interest in acquiring the BrahMos system as part of Horizon 3 of the RAFPMPP, stretching from 2023 to 2027. The army’s acquisition plan includes two BrahMos batteries for coastal defence missions, amplifying the joint force’s territorial defence capabilities. In line with this, the army is set to incorporate ground-based anti-ship missiles (GBASM) into their artillery unit for enhanced enemy suppression through cannon and rocket fire.

This development is part of a strategic layered defence plan, contributing to an in-depth defence strategy where the GBASM system provides the ability to neutralise hostile warships from the land with precision over a long range. This new addition to the Philippines’ defence arsenal encapsulates the broader ongoing trend towards modernisation and heightened military readiness across the Indo-Pacific region.

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