Manila inks deal with Delhi to buy supersonic missiles

MANILA • The Philippines and India have signed a deal for a potential supply of BrahMos cruise missiles, a product of collaboration by New Delhi and Moscow, which the Philippine government hopes would boost its coastal defence.

Philippine Defence Undersecretary Raymund Elefante and Indian ambassador Shambhu Kumaran signed an implementing agreement on Tuesday at Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Philippine armed forces, according to the Philippine Department of National Defence on Facebook.

The agreement involves the procurement of defence material and equipment by the Philippines from India, an emerging superpower rival of China in Asia.

"We are buying the BrahMos missiles," said Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who witnessed the signing ceremony. He did not provide details of the procurement plan.

BrahMos are medium-range supersonic (faster than the speed of sound) missiles that can be launched from submarines, ships, planes or land. It is considered to be the fastest supersonic missile.

Mr Lorenzana said the agreement served as a guide for the Philippines and India on "policies and procedures in the defence procurement". It also served as a "legal framework for the procurement under the government-to-government modality".

The missile system, which can be used for coastal defence and ground attack, would boost Philippine military firepower in the face of threats to its maritime territory, coming mainly from Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

Plans to procure the system stalled last year due to budgetary constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hindustan Times reported last year that India had offered a US$100 million (S$133 million) line of credit to the Philippines for the purchase, but a government source privy to the deal said it could be more.

PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2021, with the headline 'Manila inks deal with Delhi to buy supersonic missiles'. Subscribe