Philippine military officials have indicated that they are interested in acquiring BrahMos missile. Philippine Army spokesperson Ramon Zagalahas said: “ [The Philippine ] is interested in acquiring this type of missile as it will strengthen our coastal defense operations.” According to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Ramon Zagala gave the statement during the goodwill visit of two Indian warships to the Philippines.
You may not that INS Sahyadri, a “Shivalik”-class guided missile frigate and the anti-submarine corvette, the INS Kiltan visited the Philippines from 23 to 26 October. During the visit, the officials led by MajorGeneral Reynaldo M. Aquino toured the INS Sahyadri and were briefed about the Brahmos missile. In this article, we will discuss why the Chinese would be worried if the Philippines buy a Brahmos missile from India? Let’s get started. China claims most of the South China Sea. It said that it has "indisputable sovereignty" over the area. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have disputed these claims. The route is significant as about $5 trillion in trade through shipping passes each year.
Countries like the U.S, Japan, the U.K, and India have no claims in the area and want ‘Freedom of Navigation’ as per international maritime laws. China has tried imposing a unilateral decision as per which all ships & aircraft navigating in the area need to identify itself to the Chinese Navy. China has built up military infrastructure in the islands which include reinforced aircraft hangars at different parts of the disputed territories. Not only this, but YJ-12 Anti Ship Missile and HQ-9 Surface to Air missiles have also been deployed. China has tried to change the territorial status quo gradually, island-by-island instead of trying to capture in one go.
For example, China first occupied the Paracel islands in 1974 and then slowly expanded its presence southward by attacking Vietnam’sislands in the Spratly chain in the 1980s. This strategy is known as salami slicing aims for the slow accumulation of small changes. China has been using strong-arm tactics to threaten its smaller neighbor's time and again which include patrols by warships and aircraft close to their borders. In 2013, the Philippines government lead by the then President Benigno Aquino III brought an arbitration case against China in the permanent court of Arbitration.
On 12 July 2016, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines. The landmark decision rejected China’s assertion that it enjoys historic rights over a huge area of the South China Sea encompassed by the “nine-dash line.” China had argued that the tribunal had no jurisdiction in the matter and rejected the decision. But by that time Rodrigo Duterte had become the new president and declared that he had no intention of taking any steps based on the judgment. He also openly favored aligning internationally with China and Russia, despite the existence of a long-standing treaty of friendship with the United States. But the underlining issue of Chinese hegemony remained and it seems Chinese eyes are now set on another island.
In the first three months of 2019, the Philippine armed forces say they have observed 600 Chinese naval vessels circling Pagasa island which the Philippines claims as part of its territory. On Apr 4th events took a new turn when President Duterte stated, “I’m trying to tell China, Pagasa is ours. So let us be friends, but do not touch Pagasa Island and the rest. Otherwise, things would be different.” He insisted that “this is not a warning, this is just a word of advice to my friends because China is our friend”. Duterte went on, “I will not plead or beg, but I’m just telling you to lay off Pagasa, because I have soldiers there, If you touch it, that’s another story. Then I will tell my soldiers ‘prepare for suicide missions’.” So, again the tensions between China and Philippine have risen.
The most credible threat to the Philippines is from the massive Chinese Navy which now boasts of a very large number of surface combatants. Any Chinese large scale invasion in all probability will come through the sea. This is where the BrahMos missile comes into the picture. It is considered to be one of the most potent anti-ship missiles is the Brahmos missile.
The BrahMos cruise missile is produced byIndia-based BrahMos Aerospace, set up in 1998, and is a joint venture between India’s DefenseResearch and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia. Brahmos weighs in at 3000 kg or 6600 lbs, has a length of 8.4 m and a diameter of 0.6 m. It has a solid-fuel rocket booster for the first stage and a liquid-fueled ramjet for the second stage. Ramjet engine can power flight to sustained supersonic speeds. It has no moving parts, like the compressors and turbines used in the turbofan engines found on conventional jet planes.
They rely on the huge pressures created by fast airflow into the engine to ignite the fuel and generate thrust. Brahmos can be launched from aircraft, land installations, and warships. It is being tested for induction into submarines also. A hypersonic version of the missile, BrahMos-II, is also presently under development with a speed of Mach 7-8 to boost aerial fast strike capability. It is expected to be ready for testing by2020 BrahMos present a challenge to any surface ship. The reason is its unique features.
1. It has a supersonic speed of Mach 3 or 1 km per second providing very little time to intercept.
2. BrahMos uses a 300 kg or 660 lbs Semi-Armor piercing warhead and also has very high Kinetic energy since Kinetic energy is directly proportional to the square of velocity. BrahMos actually has about 9 times the Kinetic Energy of conventional subsonic missiles like Tomahawk. The combined destructive force of massive warhead and kinetic energy is lethal for even the biggest surface warships, bunkers. Brahmas has been known to break ships in half in several tests.
3. It can perform S maneuvers in the final stages of flight. The missile basically doesn’t move in a straight line, making it very hard to intercept.
4. There are lots of redundancies in the guidance system - right from the INS, GPS, GLONASS, and GAGAN making it hard to jam. 5. The accuracy of around 1 square meter makes it apt for a precision strike on high-value targets. The best defense against the Brahmos missile is to destroy the launch platforms before the missile could be fired. The diverse launch platform makes this task difficult but not impossible. Once the Brahmos gets launched successfully, it's a totally different ball game. Even the Us Navy will find it very difficult to defend against a barrage of BrahMos.
Last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Philippines, New Delhi and Manila signed four agreements, including one to step up bilateral cooperation in the defense and logistics sector. At this stage, it is not clear if the Philippines’interest in Brahmos missiles will actually translate into reality. But if a deal to acquire BrahMos goes through, it will act as deterrence for the Philippines against China. It is to be noted that the U.S. the Philippines have a Mutual Defense Treaty which means that if there is an 'armed attack’ in the Philippines, the U.S will come to its aid. So, the Philippines just need to prevent a swift action by China and here the BrahMos will be an excellent asset.