Philippine army to buy BrahMos missiles and more hardware

The Philippine Army is gradually shifting from internal to territorial and external defense with its programmed acquisition of Indian-Russian designed land-based BraHmos supersonic missiles. Jaime Laude reports in The Philippine Star.

Philippine army to buy BrahMos missiles and more hardware
The Philippine army has programmed the purchase of land-based BrahMos missiles (Picture source: Army Recognition)

“Talks are now ongoing for Philippine Army’s BrahMos missile acquisition project with India,” a senior military official bared, adding that BrahMos supersonic missiles are ideal for the Army’s land-based territorial defense operations.

The BrahMos (designated PJ-10) is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land. It is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world. It is a joint venture between the Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), who together have formed BrahMos Aerospace. It is based on the Russian P-800 Oniks cruise missile and other similar sea-skimming Russian cruise missile technology. The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

It is the world's fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation. The missile travels at speeds of Mach 4, which is being upgraded to Mach 5.0. The land-launched and ship-launched versions are already in service, with the air and submarine-launched versions currently in the testing phase. An air-launched variant of BrahMos appeared in 2012. 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 by 2020.

India wanted the BrahMos to be based on a mid range cruise missile like the P-700 Granit. Its propulsion is based on the Russian missile, and missile guidance has been developed by BrahMos Aerospace. The missile is expected to reach a total order US$13 billion.

In 2016, as India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), India and Russia are now planning to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos missiles with 600 km-plus range and an ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy. In 2019, India upgraded the missile with a new range of 500 km.

“Once these BraHmos are finally procured and delivered, the Philippine Army will have the capability of defending the country from foreign aggressors and other territorial threats in the open seas,” a highly placed military source said.

On top of this, the Army has already created the 1st Brigade Combat Team to be its national quick reaction maneuver force against any land-based aggression of foreign forces anywhere in the country.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) is looking forward to a smooth and increased transfer of defense equipment and technology needed by the Philippines in its ongoing modernization program from Japan following the recent launching of Philippines-Japan Defense Industry Forum in Manila this week. “We, at the DND, fully support the recent amendment of Japan’s Self-Defense Force Act that would allow the Japanese government and its Ministry of Defense ‘the needed flexibilities’ for the Japanese military force ‘to play a greater role’ in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region by exporting quality defense equipment to foreign countries like the Philippines,” declared Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna at the inaugural launching of defense industry forum.

Japan has already handed over for free five maritime patrol trainer aircraft to the Philippine Navy. These aircraft, converted into surveillance planes, are being used to conduct patrols over the country’s maritime and territorial domain in the West Philippine Sea and at the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) in the Pacific. Tokyo also passed on to the Philippine Air Force excess spare parts for UH-1H helicopters in its inventory.

New air defense, missile units operational

The Philippine Army has activated three new aerial defense units in a bid to bolster defense capabilities against threats and better array of aviation operations to support ground forces. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the Aviation “Bagwis” Regiment, 2nd Multiple Launch Rocket System Battery, and 1st Land-based Missile System Battery, are now operational. “These units will play a vital role in the Army’s fight against terrorism and the communist insurgency,” he explained.

On the other hand, the Rocket and Missile units under the Army Artillery Regiment will help augment the troop’s firepower in large scale armed confrontation for internal defense and security engagements.