THE defense-military establishment is finalizing plans to acquire medium-range ramjet BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, which Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
said could be considered the country’s first weaponry with deterrent capability.
Lorenzana said the procurement of the Indian-made BrahMos, noted as the fastest missile in the service of any military in the world for now, should initialize the deterrent capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is currently building its firepower.
The BrahMos, a product of a joint venture between a Russian defense company and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has a speed of up to Mach 3, or thrice the speed of sound, with a maximum range of 290 kilometers.
The missile can carry a 200-kilogram warhead for both ship and land-based launching platforms, while its aircraft-launched variant can carry a 300-kg warhead.
Lorenzana told reporters on Monday night he expects to sign the acquisition agreement for BrahMos within the first quarter of 2020, with government-to-government as mode for the procurement.
Initially, the defense chief said, he was looking to get at least two batteries for the missile, which would jump-start the military’s effort to build its deterrent capability, given the country’s current territorial challenges.
A missile battery is equivalent to three mobile autonomous launchers with two or three missile tubes each.
The country is pressed against China’s military activities in the South China Sea, especially in Manila-claimed territory in the West Philippine Sea, where Beijing’s military and paramilitary ships and even militia vessels are active.
Lorenzana said they are evaluating if the supersonic missile the country plans to acquire would be for the Philippine Army or the Air Force, or whether the missiles would be launched from an aircraft of from a land-based platform.
The Air Force is already using FA-50 fighter jets, a squadron of which was acquired from South Korea.
However, Lorenzana said, their initial inclination was for the Army’s use, and this is why two missile batteries were initially eyed for purchase.
The use and production of the BrahMos by India for its Army, Air Force and Navy had earlier stirred fears for the Chinese military, a military rival, because of the missile’s seeming capacity to blunt any effort to stop it from hitting its target given its supersonic speed.
This has prompted China to buy S-400 missiles for its defense system. The AFP recently received two Cobra attack helicopters from the United States that were donated through Jordan.
Early this year, it also initialized its underwater monitoring and warfare capability through the delivery of two AW159 anti-submarine helicopters that it bought from an Anglo-Italian defense manufacturer.