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Trouble For Chinese Navy In South China Sea? Philippines Accepts BrahMos Offer For Anti-Ship Missile System

by Swarajya Staff - Jan 14, 2022, 09:43 AM

BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. 

  • The acquisition of BrahMos will significantly boost the Philippine's capabilities to deal with the threat from China's People's Liberation Army Navy.

The Philippines has accepted India's offer to buy BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in a deal worth $375 million for its shore-based anti-ship missile system acquisition project, the country's Department of National Defence has said in a letter dated 31 December 2021.

The approval for the deal comes years after the first reports of the Philippine's interest in BrahMos cruise missile for its coastal anti-ship missile system. With this approval, the Philippines is set to become the first international customer of the cruise missile.

The acquisition of the missile will significantly boost the Philippine's capabilities to deal with the threat from China's People's Liberation Army Navy. China lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea, including the parts claimed by the Philippines, based on the "nine-dash line".

The dispute in the South China Sea, to which Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan are also party, is driven by overlapping claims to land features in the South China Sea and the maritime entitlements around them. Over the years, China has built artificial islands in the region and militarised them to solidify its claims and has bullied other claimants, including the Philippines.

In 2016, the International Tribunal in The Hague dismissed China's claims in the South China Sea as part of a ruling in a case brought by the Philippines in 2013. China had refused to participate in the proceedings at the tribunal in the Hague and rejected its ruling in the case.

In recent years, tensions between China and the Philippines over the long-simmering territorial dispute have increased. In November 2021, Chinese coastguard ships blocked and fired water cannons on Philippines supply boats within the country's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Earlier, the Philippines had reported an incursion into its EEZ by around 285 maritime militia vessels from China.

In the event of a conflict, the Philippines could use its shore-based anti-ship missile system to target Chinese vessels in parts of the South China Sea.

The first export of the BrahMos missile is likely to pave the way for its purchase by other countries. Many nations, including Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, have expressed interest in the BrahMos missile. In 2018, a BrahMos aerospace team had visited Indonesia's state-run shipyard in Surabaya to assess the possibility of fitting the naval version of the BrahMos cruise missile on Indonesian warships.