India has been in talks with Vietnam, which has maritime border issues with China in the South China Sea, over Hanoi’s interest in acquiring the Indo-Russian supersonic cruise missile BrahMos

India has taken a major step towards becoming an arms exporter. India has signed a key pact with the Philippines for the sale of "defence material and equipment", which includes BrahMos cruise missiles.

This is a significant development for two reasons. One the Philippines could be India’s first client for its missile system and second those Indian arms could protect the Philippines against Beijing in the South China Sea.

This region the South China Sea has become one of the biggest flashpoints, not just in Asia, but the entire world. China claims the whole of the South China Sea. Five other countries make overlapping claims-- the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Vietnam.

The BrahMos is considered to be the fastest supersonic missile in the world. Supersonic, means faster than the speed of sound and the BrahMos is known to be a leader in that category of missiles.

Reports say it travels at three times the speed of sound. It can be fired from ships, submarines. Aircraft and ground launchers, the missile itself has a range of 290 kilometres. Vietnam wants to use the BrahMos system for coastal defence and ground attack. A clear vulnerability considering the growing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. In January China had passed a law. It gave its coastguard powers to open fire on foreign vessels.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Friday assured Vietnam of India’s help in modernisation of its armed forces, with a focus on enhancing maritime capabilities, as both sides work on a new joint vision statement. Rajnath Singh should assure the Vietnam government to supply these deadly missiles for its defence.

Defence sources said Vietnam is keen on acquiring a host of military equipment, including India’s Akash air defence system and the Dhruv helicopters, besides the BrahMos.

India sees Vietnam as a friendly foreign country with shared concerns and common interests. Both countries are also looking at collaborating in multiple domains of defence cooperation like ship-building, surface and subsurface capacities at sea.

Indian conglomerate L&T is currently in the process of constructing 12 high-speed patrol boats for the Vietnam Border Guard.