Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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India Selling Supersonic BrahMos Warship-killing Missiles to Vietnam and the Philippines

Goodbye, Pakistan

(Photo : Indian Army) BrahMos will soon envelop all of Pakistan.

The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has no defense against India's BrahMos supersonic cruise missile -- the fastest anti-ship missile in the world -- and India is intent on selling these world-beating missiles to both Vietnam and the Philippines, the military core of the opposition to China's claim to almost all of the South China Sea.

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Reports reveal India has stepped-up efforts to sell the anti-ship version of its Mach 3 (2,500 to 3,000 km/h) missile whose 300 kg semi-armor piercing warhead can obliterate small ships such as China's coast guard cutters and cut in two larger warships such as the Type 052D destroyer, considered the most modern in the PLAN.

The surface-to-air missiles on PLAN warships such as the FL-3000N will be almost useless against a volley of supersonic BrahMos hurtling towards a Chinese warship at Mach 3. The current generation of PLAN ship borne SAMs can only effectively engage anti-ship missiles travelling at half the speed of BrahMos.

The last ditch defense of Chinese warships, the Type 730 seven-barreled 30 mm Gatling gun close-in weapons system, has less than two seconds to detect, track, fire on and destroy BrahMos, which is a physical impossibility.

India has 15 countries in its list of top BrahMos customers. Vietnam heads the first list of four countries while the Philippines heads the list of the next 11 countries. In the second list along with the Philippines are Malaysia, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.

India has been strengthening its military ties with Vietnam. It's supplying Vietnam with offshore patrol boats under a $100 million credit line, its largest overseas military aid package yet.

By pushing international sales of the sought after BrahMos, India is effectively thumbing its nose at China, which warned India the sale of the missiles to China's enemies is "destabilizing."

The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, has made the strategic calculation standing-up to China is the most effective response to doing nothing about China's destabilizing military aggressiveness since the Chinese have shown they respect no nation in their drive for hegemony in Asia.

India is also angered at China's military assistance to arch-rival Pakistan and was alarmed when Chinese submarines docked in Sri Lanka just off the coast of India.

Modi has ordered BrahMos Aerospace, which produces the missiles, to speed-up sales to a list of five countries topped by Vietnam. The others countries in the list are Indonesia, South Africa, Chile and Brazil. Indonesia is also involved in the squabble over the South China Sea.

Indonesia and the Philippines have shown a keen interest in acquiring BrahMos, which is expected to be cheaper than comparative U.S. anti-ship missiles.

"Policymakers in Delhi were long constrained by the belief that advanced defense cooperation with Washington or Hanoi could provoke aggressive and undesirable responses from Beijing," said Jeff Smith, Director of Asian Security Programs at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington.

"Prime Minister Modi and his team of advisers have essentially turned that thinking on its head, concluding that stronger defense relationships with the U.S., Japan, and Vietnam actually put India on stronger footing in its dealings with China."

Brahmos is being produced by an Indian-Russian joint venture, BrahMos Aerospace. It's a short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from ships, submarines or from land. An aircraft launched version is being tested. The land-launched and ship-launched versions are already in service.

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