‘Done deal’: Philippines allocates funds to buy India’s BrahMos missile system
NEW DELHI: The Philippines is set to become the first foreign customer for the BrahMos cruise missile system jointly developed by India and Russia, with the government in Manila recently allocating 2.8 billion pesos ($55.5 million) for initial funding for the weapon system.
The process for the acquisition of the medium-range supersonic cruise missile by the Philippines armed forces suffered a setback because of the Covid-19 pandemic but is now back on track, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
According to the website of the Philippines’ department of budget management, two “special allotment release orders” worth 1.3 billion pesos and 1.535 billion pesos were issued on December 27 to cover the initial funding requirements for the “Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System Acquisition Project” of the Philippine Navy.
The people cited above confirmed this allocation was for the BrahMos missile system. They added that a team from the Philippine Navy visited the production unit of BrahMos Aerospace in Hyderabad earlier this month as part of the acquisition process.
The BrahMos Integration Complex in Hyderabad is responsible for integration of mechanical systems and assembling electronic systems. Various sub-systems fabricated in other centres in India and Russia are integrated and checked at this complex.
“It is a done deal and there will be further developments early next year,” one of the people cited above said.
The Philippines armed forces are implementing a revised modernisation programme and a contract for two corvettes was signed by the navy with South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries on December 28. The Philippines also plans to sign contracts for 36 Black Hawk helicopters and six offshore patrol vessels in 2022.
The department of budget management also made substantial allocation this month to cover the initial funding requirements for the acquisition of utility helicopters by the Philippine Air Force and fast boats for the navy.
On March 2, India and the Philippines signed an “implementing arrangement” to facilitate government-to-government deals on military hardware and equipment, including the BrahMos missile, which has a range of 290 km and can carry a 200-kg warhead.
Filipino defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who witnessed the signing ceremony, was quoted by the media as saying at the time that Philippines is buying the BrahMos missile. Lorenzana said the agreement would serve as a guide for the two sides on policies and procedures in defence procurement.
Hindustan Times had first reported in December 2019 that the Philippines was set to become the first country to buy the BrahMos missile system. Both sides were keen on signing a deal during a proposed visit by President Rodrigo Duterte early in 2021, but the plan fell through because of the widespread disruptions caused by the pandemic.
The Philippine Army’s first Land Based Missile System Battery also has plans to acquire the BrahMos. Russian officials have said India and Russia are working to gradually increase the range of the BrahMos and begin exporting the missile to third countries.
The Philippines zeroed in on the BrahMos after extensive trials and much of the negotiations have revolved around the cost of the system. India had offered a $100-million line of credit to the Philippines for defence purchases.
India has been in talks with several Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, in recent years to sell them land and sea-based versions of the BrahMos. New Delhi has set an ambitious target of achieving defence exports worth $5 billion by 2025.