ANALYSIS – As the Philippines buys cheap and unreliable Russian military weapons, such as the Indian-Russian BrahMos land-based PJ-10 cruise missile announced last week, which will be used by the Philippine Marines in an anti-ship role, experts argue that the U.S. should provide this critical ally subsidized American and and other weapons, including ballistic missiles to threaten China.
In addition to putting Chinese bases in the region at risk, U.S.-provided missiles would stop Russian military sales.
Anders Corrs, an author, principal at Corr Analytics Inc., and publisher of the Journal of Political Risk says that: “Such inexpensive U.S. and allied defense exports could completely drive out unreliable Russian systems that risk disaggregating U.S. alliance systems and turning them into satellites of Moscow, or worse, Beijing.”
Even if the BrahMos missiles work perfectly, they are not enough. There are two major vulnerabilities in the Philippine defense of its West Philippines Sea. First, even after the purchase, China can occupy features, build artificial islands, fish, and drill for oil and gas outside the range of the missiles but within the at-minimum 200 nautical mile (nm) EEZ of the Philippines. The missiles have a speed of Mach 2.8, but a range of just 156 nm, according to an Indian official quoted in the Wall Street Journal.
Not only that, But Russia and its hardware can’t be trusted. Corrs explains:
Russia might have designed malfunction or a kill switch into its exported defense systems. In an emergency, Russia might stop the supply of critical weapons components and spare parts. It is difficult for India, the Philippines, and other nations that buy cheap Russian military hardware to know whether it is truly reliable. This trust deficit with Moscow puts the users of Russian systems, including countries’ heads of state and diplomats, at a disadvantage in their negotiations with Beijing.
Corrs notes that Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center says that an effective deterrent against China could be created with a new Philippine president and prodigious numbers of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
“Washington could base or gift to Manila a force of two hundred 500km range PrSM short range ballistic missiles and 100 or so 1,500 to 2,000km range Typhon medium range ballistic missiles, both soon to begin production,” wrote Fisher. “These would be enough to put Chinese bases in the [Spratlys] out of commission and pose a deadly threat to China’s nuclear submarines and aircraft [carrier] bases at Hainan.”
Without effective U.S.-Philippine military cooperation, continued Fisher, “the Philippines may be neutralized for generations to come, a major Chinese goal as it fights for hegemony in Asia and then globally.” ADN