In a major boost to India’s plan to export the BrahMos to East Asian countries, Russia has indicated that its strategic partnership with China will not come in the way to exporting the supersonic cruise missile, touted as the world's deadliest, to any country.
Diplomatic sources in Delhi said that Russia has given "in-principal" approval to India to export the missile to any country, including the Philippines.
Philippine Secretary of National Defence Delfin Lorenzana announced on 16 December that Manila is set to order the BrahMos missile system from India in 2020 as part of the military's modernisation programme.
“At least 14 countries have taken interest in BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system but you have to talk to military department to know the exact status of the negotiation”, Deputy Chief of Mission at Russian Embassy Roman Babushkin said in New Delhi.
The statement came amid a public announcement by the Philippine military about the ongoing negotiation for the purchase of two batteries of BrahMos - a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the NPO Mashinostroyenia of Russia.
One battery includes three mobile autonomous launchers with two or three missile tubes.
"Signing of the contract will be in 2020. Possibly on the first or second quarter", the Philippine secretary of national defence had said, adding that Manila is likely to procure "two batteries" under a government-to-government deal.
The Philippine Army in October activated its first land-based missile battery and an aviation regiment, and the missile is expected to enter service by 2024.
Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, have territorial disputes with China over the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest waterways.
The conflict has remained unresolved for decades and has come into the fore in recent years after increased assertiveness of China. Beijing insists that its installations in the South China Sea serve defensive purposes and are being used primarily for scientific research and maritime safety programmes.