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Philippines signs agreement with India for world's fastest supersonic missiles

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A soldier salutes from a Brahmos Weapon system in New Delhi, on Jan 26, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

The Philippines and India have signed an agreement for a potential supply of BrahMos cruise missiles, a product of collaboration by India and Russia, which the Philippine government hopes would boost coastal defence.

Philippine Defence Undersecretary Raymund Elefante and Indian Ambassador Shambu Kumaran signed an implementing agreement on Tuesday (March 2) at Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to the Philippine Department of National Defence on Facebook.

The agreement involved the procurement of defence material and equipment by the Philippines from India, an emerging superpower rival of China in Asia.

"We are buying the BrahMos missiles," said Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who witnessed the signing ceremony. He did not provide details of the procurement plan yet.

BrahMos are medium-range supersonic (faster than the speed of sound) missiles that can be launched from submarines, ships, planes or land. It is considered to be the fastest supersonic missile in the world.

Mr Lorenzana said the agreement served as guide for the Philippines and India on "policies and procedures in the defence procurement". It also served as a "legal framework for the procurement under the government-to-government modality", Mr Lorenzana added.

The missile system, which can be used for coastal defence and ground attack, would boost Philippine military firepower in the face of threats to its maritime territory, coming mainly from Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

Plans to procure the system stalled last year due to budgetary constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hindustan Times reported last year that India has offered a US$100 million (S$133 million) line of credit to the Philippines for the weapons system purchase, but a government source privy to the deal said it could be more.

In separate occasions in January this year, Ambassador Kumaran and BrahMos Aerospace chief executive and managing director Sudhir Mishra visited the Philippine Army and Philippine Marines, the potential users of the BrahMos missiles.