By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA – Some 21 Philippine Navy (PN) personnel have completed their training in India as operators of the soon-to-be delivered BrahMos shore-based anti-ship missile system (SBASMS) which will be the primary weapon of the Coastal Defense Regiment (CDR).
“21 PN personnel were awarded their interim missile badges and pins by no less than the Indian Navy Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Radhakrishnan Hari Kumar, in a valedictory ceremony for the operator training of the SBASMS,” the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) said in a Facebook post over the weekend.
The training of these PN personnel took place from Jan. 23 to Feb. 11 and focused on the operations and maintenance of the SBASMS.
“The induction of the BrahMos missile into the PMC will strengthen your maritime capability and will also contribute to our collective maritime security within the region. I sincerely hope that you’ll always cherish the bonds of friendship you had during your stay here,” Kumar told the PN personnel.
The Indian naval official also congratulated the officers, enlisted personnel and civilian human resource who finished the practical series of the training successfully, and further added that “as pioneers of the system, each has proven his/her capacity as a fine ambassador of their country”.
Meanwhile, CDR commander Marine Col. Romulo Quemado lauded the team for the successful accomplishment of the training and expressed his optimism about the future of the unit.
He further emphasized the value of retaining the knowledge that they gained during the training to honor the investment made by the Filipino people.
“The training is a critical package included in the PN Shore Based Anti-Ship Missile System Project Contract that was signed by the Philippines and India in 2022,” the PMC added.
The acquisition is expected to boost the PN’s capability to defend the country’s maritime borders and will further complement the Navy’s surface assets in patrolling the country’s waters.
Former Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and BrahMos Aerospace director general Atul Dinkar Rane signed the contract worth PHP18.9 billion in a virtual ceremony at the DND headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City in January 2022.
Three batteries of the BrahMos cruise missiles will be acquired by the country under this contract. Lorenzana also said that the BrahMos cruise missiles will greatly beef up the PN’s firepower, particularly the Marines’ CDR.
He added that the BrahMos cruise missile system will provide counter-attack capabilities within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
“As the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos missiles will provide deterrence against any attempt to undermine our sovereignty and sovereign rights, especially in the West Philippine Sea,” Lorenzana said.
The BrahMos cruise missile can be launched from a ship, aircraft, submarine, or land and has a top speed of around Mach 2.8 (around 3,400 km. per hour), and is capable of carrying warheads weighing 200 to 300 kilograms. (PNA)