MANILA, Blogtuan.info – The Philippines agreed to purchase an anti-ship missile system from India, which will shore up its security system in the face of China’s increasing aggression in the South China Sea.
AFP reports, Manila’s military was one of the most poorly equipped forces in Asia, before Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino, embarked on a modest modernization program in 2012.
However, its military equipment still cannot match its neighboring superpower, China.
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana gave few details about the nearly $375 million (Rp 5.3 trillion) contract awarded to BrahMos Aerospace to supply coast-based anti-ship missile systems to the Philippine Navy.
BrahMos – a joint venture between India and Russia – has developed a cruise missile that India’s defense ministry says is the fastest in the world.
The Philippines will be the first country to buy it. India’s defense ministry declined to comment according to reports AFP.
The deal includes training for operators and maintainers as well as logistical support, Lorenzana said on Facebook where she posted a copy of the “Notice of Appreciation”.
Duterte has been trying to acquire missile systems for the Philippine military under a modernization program called “Second Horizon”.
“It’s part of our territorial defense,” said Colonel Ramon Zagala, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The system would act as a deterrent to would-be aggressors because “you can hit the target from afar”, he told AFP.
Military analyst and historian Jose Antonio Custodio told AFP the system was likely to be deployed on the west side of the main island of Luzon or on the island of Palawan. But he ruled out the Spratly islands because of a “lack of hiding places”.
Tensions in the South China Sea escalated last year, with Manila and Beijing accusing each other of territorial violations.
China claims nearly all of the waterway, through which trillions of dollars of trade pass every year, competing with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Beijing has ignored a 2016 ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that its historical claims were unfounded.
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