The Philippines will be the first country to purchase a missile system jointly developed by India and Russia to defend its maritime territory.
The Philippine Defense Secretary said the Philippines has struck a deal to purchase an anti-ship missile system from India for approximately $375 million to bolster its navy.
The Philippines is in the final stages of a five-year, 300 billion pesos ($5.85 billion) project to modernize its outdated military equipment that includes World War II warships and helicopters the United States used in the Vietnam War.
Manila’s military was one of Asia’s most infamous when President Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino, began a modest modernization program in 2012 — but still no match for its great neighbor China.
Under the agreement negotiated with the Government of India, Brahmos Aerospace Pvt will deliver three batteries, train operators and maintenance, and provide logistical support, Defense Minister Delphine Lorenzana said in a Facebook post late Friday.
BrahMos – a joint venture between India and Russia – has developed a cruise missile that India’s Defense Ministry says is the world’s fastest.
The Philippines will be the first country to buy it. India’s Defense Ministry declined to comment.
The new anti-ship system aims to deter foreign ships from encroaching on the 200 nautical-mile (370 km) EEZ. In recent years, the Philippines has repeatedly accused China of violating its exclusive economic zone by sending hundreds of militia boats into its waters.
“It is part of our regional defense,” said Colonel Ramon Zagala, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In 2018, the Philippines purchased the Israeli-made Spike ER missiles, the first ship-borne missile systems for naval deterrence.
Despite friendly relations between China and the Philippines under Duterte, Beijing has remained adamant about claiming large parts of the South China Sea, a conduit for billions of dollars in goods.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam also made competing claims.
However, a 2016 international arbitration ruling said the Chinese allegations had no legal basis.
On Wednesday, a new US State Department report said China’s activities in the South China Sea, including its “historic claims” over nearly all parts of a vital trade route, “seriously undermine the rule of law” in the oceans and globally recognized provisions in international law.