The Philippines has agreed to buy an anti-ship missile system from India, the defense minister said on Friday, bolstering its security in the face of growing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
Manila’s army was one of the worst equipped in Asia when President Rodrigue DuterteBenigno Aquino’s predecessor, launched a modest modernization program in 2012, but it still falls short of its neighboring superpower, China.
Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana gave few details on the nearly $375 million contract awarded to BrahMos Aerospace to supply a land-based anti-ship missile system to the Philippine Navy.
BrahMos – a joint venture between India and Russia – has developed a cruise missile that the Indian Ministry of Defense says is the fastest in the world.
The Philippines would be the first country to buy it. The Indian Ministry of Defense declined to comment.
The deal involves three batteries, training for operators and maintainers, and logistical support, Lorenzana said on Facebook where he posted a copy of the “award notice.”
Duterte is seeking to acquire missile systems for the Philippine military under a modernization program called “Second Horizon.”
“It’s part of our territorial defense,” said Colonel Ramon ZagalaSpokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The system would have a deterrent effect on would-be attackers because “you can hit the target from afar”, he said. AFP.
Military analyst and historian Jose Antonio Custodio Recount AFP the system would likely be stationed on the west side of the main island of Luzon or Palawan Island, but it ruled out the Spratly Islands due to “lack of concealment”.
Tensions over the South China Sea have risen over the past year, with Manila and Beijing accusing each other of territorial violations.
China claims almost the entire waterway, through which billions of dollars of trade pass each year, with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Beijing ignored a 2016 ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that found its landmark claim without merit.