The Philippines is set to become the first export customer of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile. India and Indonesia on Monday agreed to expand strategic cooperation in a range of areas including , industries and technology sharing, as the two maritime neighbours looked at injecting a new momentum to their security partnership

NEW DELHI: India and Indonesia, which is also locked in a maritime dispute with China in the contentious South China Sea, have decided to expand their strategic and defence cooperation in a wide range of areas. The further expansion of defence and military relations were discussed during delegation-level talks led by defence minister Rajnath Singh and his Indonesian counterpart General Prabowo Subianto in New Delhi on Monday.

The possible areas of further expansion of defence and military ties were discussed during talks between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Indonesian counterpart General Prabowo Subianto, officials said.

Responding to the possibility of the Philippines adding the missile to its inventory, the country’s Department of National Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in Dec 2019 that the contract-signing for the BrahMos would take place in the early or later part of 2020.

He said the country will acquire two batteries of the missile, with each battery including three mobile autonomous launchers with two to three missile tubes each.

The Philippines Army is expected to acquire the missile, which could also be used by the Philippines Air Force. The procurement will be via the government-to-government model, Lorenzana added.

The Philippines is undergoing a modernisation programme for its military, with PHP300 billion ($5.9 billion) earmarked for the procurement of equipment between 2018 and 2022.

The country faces tensions with China in the South China Sea, where it contests parts of the Spratly Islands. China seized the Scarborough Shoal after a standoff in 2012 and in 2019, a Chinese ship rammed a Philippines fishing vessel.

Sources said that the possible export of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to Indonesia as well as measures to further deepen maritime security cooperation figured prominently in the talks.