Philippines Receives First Batch of BrahMos Missile

The Acquisition

The Philippines Armed Forces (AFP) received its first Brahmos super-sonic anti-ship missile today, April 19th, after arriving from Indian Air Force (IAF) C-17 aircraft. This deal began in 2017 and was approved in 2020, with the order placed in 2022 for a total of 3 batteries, costing $375 million. 

The first delivery of missiles was supposed to be in March 2024; however, it was delayed for unspecified reasons. 

The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) will primarily use the ones in this order. In February of last year, 21 Philippine Marines underwent training in India, learning the proper operations of the BrahMos system, allowing the PMC to introduce it into their arsenal effectively.

The Philippine Army will reportedly receive its own in a separate deal, although further details are unavailable.

A photo of a BrahMos being delivered to the Philippines.
Source: ABP Live

This lines up with “Horizon 2” of the Philippine government’s plan to bolster the armed forces of the Philippines through a series of upgrades and new acquisitions.

The BrahMos

The BrahMos, also called the PJ-10, is a super-sonic, medium-ranged Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile (SBASM) developed jointly between DRDO and Russian missile manufacturer NPO Mashinostroyeniya, and began in 2005. The missile can be launched from land, ships, submarines, or aircraft, and has an extended range (BrahMos-ER) and an improved next-generation variant (BrahMos-NG).

The BrahMos is manufactured by BrahMos Aerospace Limited and costs around $3.5 million, with the ER variant around $4.85 million. It is around 28 feet (8.4 meters) in length, has a diameter of 2 feet (0.6 meters), and has a weight of around 5,500–6,600 lbs. (2,500–3,000 kg).

The operational range of the export variant is around 180 miles (290 km), maintaining supersonic speeds throughout the flight. The payload consists of 440–660 lbs (200–300 kg) semi-armor-piercing warhead.

Analysis 

The Philippines likely acquired the BrahMos system for a few reasons, mainly the rising tensions in the South China Sea and as part of a larger plan to adopt an external defense strategy going forward.

The BrahMos is based on the Russian P800 Oniks, which the Russian military struck various targets in Syria as well as in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. This system could be compared to some cruise missiles China operates, such as the YJ-12 or the anti-ship variant of the YJ-18. Cruising speeds, warheads, and ranges are comparable to the BrahMos. 

The BrahMos will suit the new Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept the Philippines adopted. The stronger, more capable BrahMos could strike more enemy vessels in the event of an invasion, making an amphibious landing against the Philippines more difficult.

The BrahMos is being further developed into a more advanced version called the BrahMos II, which could have an export variant. The Philippines could possibly acquire an improved version of the system they’re familiar with, reducing deployment time. However, this depends on how differently the BrahMos II operates. 

Deals such as this make India a more self-sufficient weapons manufacturer and a larger exporter. More influence in the export market means India could potentially compete more effectively with China in the Southeast Asia region and the global arms trade.

Selling weapons to other nations could also improve India’s relations with countries that purchase equipment. The defense relationships could also lead to increased relations in economics and trade.

An example is Armenia purchasing Pinaka multibarrel rocket launcher, Zen anti-drone systems, and the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems.

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