HIMARS Could Be A Game-changer In The Philippines Fight Against China

by The National Interest | June 14, 2020

American experts agree. “Absent an abrupt change in foreign policy outlook by President Duterte, it is unlikely the Philippines would acquire HIMARS in the near future,” says Brian Harding, an Asian security expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. “In addition to the price tag, Duterte would likely find HIMARS to be too provocative vis-à-vis China.”

But Harding believes this could change. “Just as Duterte has dramatically reoriented Philippine foreign policy, there could again be an abrupt change with a new president in 2022. A new president could also seek to accelerate the implementation of the U.S.-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which could potentially provide an avenue for the United States to deploy systems such as HIMARS in the Philippines.”

Indeed, perhaps the more interesting possibility isn’t Philippines-owned rockets, but American-operated rockets on Philippines soil. “I think observers shouldn’t just think about capabilities that the Philippines could acquire on its own,” Harding warns. “EDCA provides a vehicle for the United States to deploy its own platforms on a rotational basis, which could be a way to potentially move high-end capabilities into the region, if agreed to by leaders.”