On Friday, India and Philippines signed USD 375 million contract for the sale of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. Philippines is purchasing the anti-ship variant of the missile for its navy. The deal includes delivery of three batteries with training of operators and maintainers.
Supersonic cruise missile Brahmos can be launched from both land, water and air. It was designed, developed and produced by BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL). BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL) is an India-Russian joint venture company. The contract for purchase of Bhahmos missile was signed between BAPL and the Department of National Defence, Republic of Philippines on January 28, 2022.
History Behind BrahMos
BrahMos is a medium range supersonic cruise missile developed jointly by Russia and India. The name BrahMos is given keeping in mind of two rivers, Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia. The hypersonic version of BrahMos is under development. It will be ready for testing probably by 2024. India recently upgraded the missile range up to 650 Kilometers but in future India have plans to extend the range up to 1500 kilometers. India holds 50.5% share of the joint venture while Russia holds 49.5% share. Initial contribution of India was USD 126.25 million.
BrahMos was first tested in 2001 from Integrated Test range in Chandipur, Odissa. It was test fired from a mobile launcher in 2004 and in 2008 it was tested from a destroyer named INS Rajput. It hit the target with pin point accuracy. Gradually after several tests in 2010 BrahMos created a world record for being the first cruise missile to be tested at supersonic speeds in a steep-dive mode.
BrahMos is the only supersonic cruise missile which flies at 2.8 Mach, nearly three times faster than sound. The BrahMos is a two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster engine fitted in it. The hypersonic version of the missile will fly over five times then the speed of sound. The ship and land version of BrahMos missile can carry a conventional semi-armour-piercing warhead of 200 kgs.
BrahMos is equipped with stealth technology. It is designed such a way that it cannot be detected by radars and other detection methods. It has inertial navigation system and it can fly a maximum altitude of 14,000 meters.
The entire region of South China sea is witnessing aggressive military activities conducted by China. No doubt South China sea is a major gateway for trade in the world and China want to dominate this region by its aggressive policies. India with other like-minded nations has emphasized on the importance of Free, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
China have territorial disputes with several countries like Philippines, Vietnam etc. Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana accused Beijing of planning to occupy ‘features’ in disputed South China Sea. This dispute is not only limited to Philippines. Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have rival claims in the waters of South China Sea. Manila several times has requested Beijing to remove its vessels from the area because of its unlawful presence. But China refused every time.
Territorial dispute for Spratly Islands between China, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei is not new. Spratly Islands are crucial for economic reasons. It has unexplored reserves of oil and natural gas. Strategically the area is important and it also is a major maritime trade route to Northeast Asia. The area is also significant for commercial fishing. It is a special economic zone but Chinese fisherman get arrested there in regular basis.
May be the weakness of the Philippines armed forces provided the People’s Republic of China a chance to extend its illegal claims in the South China Sea. Philippines tried to resolve this issue diplomatically also but unfortunately it remained unsolved. That’s why Philippines want to strengthen its armed forces.
To counter China, India has adopted Act East Policy. India has started military ties with ASEAN countries through Joint Combat Exercises, weapon supply and military training programs. In Asia, India is the only country which have capability to counter China. Keeping in mind the present scenario India should unite with other countries to counter China in Indo-Pacific.