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After missile ‘malfunction’, BrahMos buyer Manila called Indian envoy

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, one of the most senior ministers in the Philippines cabinet led by President Rodrigo Duterte, had called in Shambhu S Kumaran, Indian ambassador in Manila.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: April 6, 2022 8:45:25 am

Days after the “accidental firing” of an Indian missile which landed in Pakistan, the Philippines, which is buying BrahMos missiles from India, reached out to India and sought an explanation on what had happened.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, one of the most senior ministers in the Philippines cabinet led by President Rodrigo Duterte, had called in Shambhu S Kumaran, Indian ambassador in Manila.

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Kumaran told Lorenzana there was no technical issue with the missile systems and an “enquiry was underway”. He also conveyed that as and when the probe details are available, it will be shared with the authorities.

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The accidental firing of the missile — it was believed to be a BrahMos but there was no official word on that — triggered some concern in Manila. On January 28 this year, the Philippines signed a deal to buy three batteries of the BrahMos missile which is developed jointly by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya.

Manufactured by BrahMos Aerospace in India, the Philippines deal is worth nearly $375 million, and is being touted as India’s first significant defence export.

Speaking at a session organised by the Ananta Centre Tuesday, Kumaran said: “I won’t call it a concern, but there was a query… I did have a conversation with the Defence Secretary, and explained to him that there was no technical issue (with the system) and an enquiry is underway.”

While the BrahMos missile is a joint venture with Russia, Kumaran said India uses it “extensively” and there is “confidence” in the missile system.

On March 10, a day after the incident took place, the Pakistan Army said that an unarmed Indian supersonic missile took off from Sirsa and landed near Mian Channu in Khanewal district, around 124 km inside Pakistani territory.

On March 11, the Indian government said it was an accidental firing. The Ministry of Defence, in a statement, said: “On 9 March 2022, in the course of a routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile. The Government of India has taken a serious view and ordered a high-level Court of Enquiry. It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan. While the incident is deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident.”

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