The Philippines Just Created Its First Missile Battalion
As the Philippines has been rapidly modernizing its armed forces and acquiring missiles, attack helicopters, frigates, patrol ships, and other military hardware to secure the West Philippine Sea, it is now looking at securing those assets and the West Philippine Sea with the use of the Philippines’ first missile systems.
The Philippine Navy has formed a new battalion under its command, the Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile Battalion or SBASM, launched in its headquarters in Taguig on April 3.
“The activation of SBASM will certainly add to drumbeat the heartbeat, and deliver the knockout punch for our archipelagic coastal defense capability,” said Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Nestor Herico, who heads the new battalion.
The new battalion will be in charge of the newly acquired BrahMos missiles from India, touted as the world’s fastest cruise missiles. The Philippine Navy will develop strategies, enhance its own capabilities, and construct facilities to prepare for the arrival of the BrahMos missiles. The Philippines is the first country to acquire the potent missile made by India and Russia.
According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the deal was conceptualized as early as 2017 and includes the delivery of three missile batteries. According to the document published by the secretary, the Philippines ordered shore-based anti-ship variants of the BrahMos missiles.
Limitations of the BrahMos Missiles for the Philippines
“A missile system provides a deterrence. A requirement of a deterrent and defense system is the need for eyes and ears,” Edilberto Adan, a retired Philippine military general, told BenarNews.
“It has to be integrated with a surveillance and intelligence capability for the simple reason that what you cannot see or what you cannot detect, you cannot engage,” he added.
The BrahMos Missile on Display in India
Although the missiles are touted as the world’s fastest cruise missiles with a range of up to 290 kilometers, the earth’s curvature demands an over-the-horizon radar or guidance system to serve as the missiles’ eyes toward its target. The Philippines does not have an adequate over-the-horizon guidance system, immediately limiting the missile’s range and accuracy.
However, it could still pose a threat to non-moving targets, such as Mischief Reef, which is within range of the missile if installed onshore in Palawan.
There is credible doubt on whether the BrahMos missiles if used by the Philippines, will be a credible deterrent against Chinese warships encroaching on the Philippines’ EEZ.