AFP upbeat with upcoming delivery of BrahMos missile system

Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) personnel stand in attention during a send-off ceremony at the PMC Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on June 22, 2022 as they head to India to train on Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile (SBASM) System which includes the operation and maintenance of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system. (Photo courtesy of PMC)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) remains upbeat with the upcoming delivery of the BrahMos cruise missile system from India. 

A source privy to the delivery but requested not to be named said the tentative date for the arrival of the BrahMos supersonic missile system is set on Friday, April 19, at the Clark International Airport.

The source said that the Indian missile system “[is] confirmed coming in” supposedly “to counter Chinese aggression.”

The AFP and the Department of National Defense (DND) have yet to confirm this although the military was optimistic about the integration of the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world to the capability of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC).

“We cannot comment unless the capability is turned over to us. We will provide details as soon as the equipage are formally turned over to the AFP,” said AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla.

“[We] hope it will be turned over immediately to the AFP for its use,” added AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad.

The acquisition of the BrahMos missile system was conceptualized as early as 2017 and approved by the Office of the President in 2020 as part of the “Horizon” 2 Priority Projects under the revised modernization program of the AFP amid tension in the West Philippine Sea involving Chinese vessels' incursions.

Through a letter dated Dec. 31, 2021, then Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana issued the Notice of Award for the Philippine Navy’s “Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile” (SBASM) Acquisition Project to the BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russian rocket design bureau NPO Mashinostroyeniya.

The missile system costs US$374,962,800 or around P18.9 billion, and will be utilized by the Marine Coastal Defense Regiment to “provide deterrence against any attempt to undermine the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights, especially in the West Philippine Sea.”

According to Indian manufacturer BrahMos Aerospace, the BrahMos missile has a flight range of up to 290 km with supersonic speed all through the flight which leads to a shorter flight time and ensures a lower dispersion of its target, a quicker engagement time, and a capability that cannot be intercepted “by any known weapon system in the world.”

The acquisition project was facilitated through a government-to-government (G2G) deal, and includes the delivery of three missile batteries, training for operators and maintainers, as well as the necessary Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package. A single missile battery usually consists of three mobile autonomous launchers with two or three missile tubes each along with its tracking systems.

In February 2023, 21 Filipino Marines completed a training in India where they obtained the skills to operate and maintain a SBASM system for the integration of the BrahMos missile into the PMC’s system.

Relatedly last March 26, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. met with India’s Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar where the latter reaffirmed India’s support for the Philippines’ position in the West Philippine Sea and its commitment to uphold a rules-based order and promote peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.