The BrahMos Russian-Indian joint venture, established in 1998 and named after the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva in India and Russia respectively, has produced powerful cruise missiles of the same name, as well as launchers, control systems, storage facilities, and is responsible for training personnel in operating, repairing, and upgrading missiles. BrahMos missiles have a speed of 2.5 to 2.8 times the speed of sound and can be launched from submarines, surface ships, from the coast, as well as from aircraft. The first contract for the export of the BrahMos missiles to a third country could be signed in the spring of this year, as stated by Pravin Pathak, the company’s Chief Information Technology Officer.
Relations with Russia and India, as has happened in history, is very warm and mutually beneficial, with Moscow successfully balancing its relations with Pakistan. India is pleased with the cooperation on military technology and production joint venture organization, which has brought worry to Washington. The U.S. is gradually shifting cooperation from Pakistan, a Cold War era ally, to India, as they believe it is a country in the region that can balance China’s rise. Despite U.S. intentions, India has shown that they do not only want to create new weapons with Russia, but to also to explore space together. All this characterizes the prospects for cooperation of the two countries.
It should be noted that India began to develop new weapons in the context of China, Russia and the U.S. conducting testing of different weapons to enhance strategic nuclear deterrence power.
Currently, BrahMos is actively marketing this powerful missile in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, to a total of 14 countries. With the help of Russia, India has deployed a family of supersonic cruise missiles to destroy ground and sea targets. The layout options for the fleet are based on the design of Russia’s “Onyx” missile. With the support of Russia, India has produced such missiles and has created variants of missiles for the Ground and Air Force.
India has long tried to export BrahMos missiles, which will be an important step into turning the South Asian country from major arms importer to an important military industrial center and exporter. Southeast Asia and the Middle East are priority areas in New Delhi’s political and economic policy, areas that India has had thousands of years of connections and influence with. These are areas where India has a significant influence, so they were chosen as the main direction to promote this type of missile.
There have long been discussions about the possibility of supplying BrahMos missiles to Vietnam, but then Hanoi decided to buy Russia’s “Bastion” coastal protection complexes with the export version of the missile, the Onyx. Judging by the recently published articles, the first country to buy BrahMos may be the Philippines. In December 2019, Philippine Defense Secretary Dolphin Lorenzana announced his country was interested in buying two sets of BrahMos missiles and assumed that the contract could be signed in the first half of 2020.
The purchase of this powerful anti-cruise missile by the Philippines is a natural step for the island country of more than 100 million people that needs to protect key areas of the adjacent sea. Despite the normalization of Philippine-China relations under the leadership of Philippine President Duterte, this has not changed this pressing need. The BrahMos may not necessarily tilt the balance of the region’s power in the Philippines favor, but more importantly, the Philippines can ensure its defensive capabilities without having to rely on the United States and its allies. The contract envisages significant Russian participation, though indirect, but that would certainly upset the U.S.
The process of promoting India-Philippines cooperation came after Narendra Modi took office as Prime Minister in New Delhi. In November 2017, Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Philippines. The foreign policy of the Philippines is naturally based on a balance between the U.S. and China, and no other country can be compared to their influence on the Philippines’ economy and politics. However, the ability of the Philippines to buy Russian-Indian missiles shows that another large and important country, albeit slowly but surely, is transforming from a junior US ally to a political player that is independent in its decision making, and that is also important to the interests of Russia and China.
Therefore, by acquiring the Russian-Indian produced missiles, the Philippines can continue its path of complete independent and sovereignty from U.S. domination, a former colonizing power of the archipelago. Just how U.S. President Donald Trump will respond to this remains to be seen, as on one hand he is actively trying to discourage states from acquiring these missiles, while at the same time is attempting to warm relations with India.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.