Philippines Unveils Inaugural BrahMos Missile Base in South China Sea

Philippines Unveils Inaugural BrahMos Missile Base in South China Sea

Recent satellite imagery reveals the Philippines' first BrahMos anti-ship missile base under construction at Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui in Zambales, facing the South China Sea. This development marks a significant milestone in the country's defense modernization efforts, driven by ongoing regional disputes with China.

Procured in 2022 under a $375 million deal, the Philippines acquired three BrahMos missile batteries and technical support for the Philippine Marine Corps Coastal Defense Regiment. This marked the first international sale of India's supersonic cruise missile system, reportedly sparking interest from other regional nations like Vietnam and Indonesia.

Construction of the BrahMos site began shortly after the order, with facilities resembling those at operational Indian BrahMos bases. While smaller due to reduced missile capacity, the base features a high-bay facility for maintenance and testing, as well as a sheltered magazine bunker for missile storage. Ongoing construction suggests the addition of a garage for missile launchers.

Strategically located in Western Luzon, the base positions BrahMos missiles to strike targets within 290-300 kilometers, including the disputed Scarborough Shoal, which China has occupied since 2012. The mobile nature of the system allows for relocation to different firing positions, enhancing flexibility and defense against counterstrikes.

Additional potential deployment sites include Camp Cape Bojeador in Ilocos Norte, covering the Luzon Strait, and islands like Lubang and Calayan, overlooking strategic access points.

The BrahMos procurement was championed by former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as a deterrent against threats to Philippine sovereignty, particularly in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippine Army has also expressed interest in acquiring BrahMos for coastal defense missions in the future.

To enhance operational capabilities with this advanced system, the Philippines has engaged in joint exercises with the United States, focusing on combined networks for target identification and strikes using aircraft, artillery, and missiles.

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