India, Philippines set to conclude BrahMos missile deal

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India and the Philippines are set to formally seal a government-to-government BrahMos deal soon, capping years of negotiations for the supply of a batch of the supersonic cruise missiles for the Philippine navy, people familiar with the development said on Thursday.

The procurement is expected to signal a major upswing in India’s strategic ties with the Philippines which has been focusing on ramping up its naval prowess in the face of its lingering friction with China in the South China sea.

According to the Philippines’ department of budget management (DBM), two separate ‘special allotment release orders’ (SARO) worth 1.3 billion pesos (Rs 189 crore) and 1.535 billion pesos (Rs 224 crore) were issued on Monday.

According to the DBM document, the allocation has been made “to cover the initial funding requirements for the shore-based anti-ship missile system acquisition project of the Philippine Navy.”

The people cited above said the allocation was for the missile deal.

The negotiations on the BrahMos deal have almost been completed and both sides are now set to formally seal the contract in the next few weeks, they said.

BrahMos Aerospace, an India-Russian joint venture, produces supersonic cruise missiles that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, or land platforms.

The missile flies at a speed of 2.8 Mach or almost three times the speed of sound. The variant to be exported is likely to have a range of around 290 kilometres.

In the last few days, the Philippines have sealed a number of defence deals to modernise its armed forces.

In November last year, Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin said that India and Russia are planning to export the BrahMos missile to the Philippines and several other countries.

It is learnt that initially, the Philippines will procure the missiles for its navy though the country is also looking at the weapons for its land forces as well.

A number of countries including Indonesia and many in the Gulf region have shown interest in procuring the missile.

In March, India signed a framework agreement with the Philippines that provided for government-to-government deals for the supply of defence material and equipment.

The defence and strategic ties between India and the Philippines are on an upward trajectory in the last few years.

In August, India carried out a naval exercise with the Philippines in the South China Sea.

An important country of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Philippines has territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea region.

China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons. However, several ASEAN member countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, have counterclaims.

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