India transfers 'ship killer' missiles to the Philippines

India handed over the first batch of BrahMos “ship killer” missiles to the Philippines, in the context of Manila wanting to strengthen its military capabilities at sea.

“We are exporting BrahMos missiles. The first batch has been delivered to the Philippines. I congratulate all the people of India,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said to supporters in Madhya Pradesh state on March 19. 

On the same day, Indian media published images of C-17 and Il-76 transport aircraft transporting BrahMos missile tubes to a military base in the Philippines. It is unclear when the key components of the complex will be handed over such as the command vehicle, radar station and launch vehicle.

The receiving force appears to be the Philippine Marines. Officials in this country have not commented on the information.

India and the Philippines signed a $375 million agreement in early 2022. New Delhi agreed to provide Manila with 3 BrahMos batteries with at least 6 projectile launchers, along with training for soldiers in operation and technical maintenance. The deal makes the Philippines the first export customer of this missile line.

The BrahMos missile is known as India‘s “ship killer,” developed in an arms cooperation program with Russia.

The missile uses components and technology from both countries, in which Russia is responsible for the general design and manufacturing of core systems, including radar, jet engines and fuel. India undertakes the development of software, control systems and missile bodies.

This is considered one of the fastest “ship killers” in the world, with a cruise speed of nearly 3,500 km/h and a firing range of 290 km. The missile uses a warhead weighing 200-300 kg, an inertial navigation system and active radar, as well as flight path correction using a satellite navigation system.

The move comes as the Philippines is trying to strengthen its defense capacity at sea as tensions in the East Sea increase. Philippine and Chinese public service ships have recently frequently collided, including a Chinese coast guard ship on March 23 using water cannons to spray a Philippine supply ship near Second Thomas Shoal, where Manila has stationed soldiers, on the wreck of the battleship BRP Sierra Madre.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos affirmed last month that the country “will not hold back” against China, adding that Manila will respond with “proportionate, calculated and reasonable countermeasures” to Beijing’s moves. Beijing considers the move “dangerous and illegal” at sea.