Indonesia set to buy BrahMos missiles: Report – The Diplomat
Indonesia may soon become the second country in Southeast Asia to command the powerful Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, according to an Indian media report. India’s FinancialExpress.com reported on July 19 that Indonesia is in the final stages of talks for a possible order for the land-based anti-ship variant of the BrahMos weapon system.
“Discussions with Indonesia are at an advanced stage for the export of the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile,” a source quoted by the report said. “The deal could have been signed earlier, however, due to internal issues in this country, by the end of the year or early next year the deal is expected to be sealed.”
The BrahMos missile, which was developed by BrahMos Aerospace, an Indian-Russian joint venture established in India in 1998, is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world. It can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land platforms and flies at nearly three times the speed of sound, making it nearly impossible to evade targets.
These capabilities have made it very attractive to Southeast Asian countries looking to defend vast, dispersed maritime domains, especially against Chinese incursions. In January, the Philippines formally reached a $374 million deal to acquire the BrahMos weapons system, bolstering its navy’s ability to protect its sovereign claims in the South China Sea.
While the Armed Forces of the Philippines have opted for the land-based anti-ship variant, Indonesia hopes to install the missile aboard its warships. According to FinancialExpress.com, a team from BrahMos has already visited an Indonesian shipyard to study the possibility of installing the missile.
The purchase, if it were to proceed according to the timetable proposed by the Indian media report, would represent a boost for New Delhi’s Act East policy, which seeks to deepen its economic and strategic ties with South Asia. -East. A second sale of BrahMos to the region would cement India’s status as the region’s second major player in the supersonic missile game, after Russia.
Indonesia has confirmed its interest in purchasing the Indo-Russian system since at least 2018, while Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam have also shown interest in acquiring BrahMos missiles. Indeed, with Russia’s reputation as an arms supplier of first resort thrown into limbo by the ongoing aggression in Ukraine, India even has the opportunity to establish itself as the partner of choice. of the region.
The sale would also free up the growing strategic partnership between New Delhi and Jakarta, the core of which focuses on maritime security and defense cooperation. Two of the main footholds of maritime Asia, the two nations share a concern for China’s growing power and assertiveness, and a commitment to maintaining a non-aligned and staunchly independent foreign policy.
As Don McLean Gill noted in these pages last year, India and Indonesia have historically tended to focus inward at the expense of outward power projection, but that is rapidly changing. at a time of resurgent Chinese power. In 2018, India and Indonesia established a comprehensive strategic partnership and held a bilateral naval exercise known as Samudera Shakti for the first time.
For Indonesia, the benefits of acquiring this powerful new weapons system are not hard to discern. While the country’s navy has operated the Russian-made Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missile since 2011, purchasing the more advanced BrahMos system would represent a significant improvement in its maritime deterrent capability in the waters around the Natuna Islands, which straddle China’s broad claim to the “nine-dash line” and which over the past decade have seen repeated incursions by Chinese fishing boats and maritime militia vessels.
Crucially, the purchase, which could see other Southeast Asian countries follow in Indonesia’s footsteps, would be another sign of the regional arms-buying frenzy sparked by China’s maritime assertiveness. China.