MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine protection chief signed an 18.9 billion peso ($378 million) deal Friday with India to accumulate the navy’s first shore-based anti-ship missile system that he mentioned could be used to defend the nation’s sovereignty particularly within the disputed South China Sea.

Protection Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signed the contract with BrahMos Aerospace Director Normal Atul Dinkar Rane in a ceremony by way of video and a face-to-face assembly attended by Philippine and Indian authorities and navy officers.

Regardless of monetary constraints and the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippines has managed to proceed with a decades-long program to modernize its navy, one in all Asia’s most underfunded. It has acquired warships, plane and weapons to take care of Muslim and communist insurgencies and China’s more and more assertive actions within the South China Sea.

“Because the world’s quickest supersonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos missiles will present deterrence in opposition to any try to undermine our sovereignty and sovereign rights, particularly within the West Philippines Sea,” Lorenzana mentioned, utilizing the Philippine identify for the disputed waters.

The missile firepower “will present counterattack capabilities inside the Philippines’ unique financial zone,” he mentioned.

Lorenzana was referring to a 200-nautical-mile (370-kilometer) stretch of sea the place coastal states have been granted unique rights to discover and faucet fish and different sea assets underneath the 1982 U.N. Conference of the Legislation of the Sea. Many disputes involving Chinese language coast guard and fishing ships and Philippine vessels have occurred within the waters off the Philippine archipelago.

The weapons system consists of three batteries of missiles, cellular land-based launchers, coaching for operators and upkeep models and logistical assist, the Division of Protection mentioned. The missiles might journey as much as 3 times the velocity of sound, making it laborious to interdict, Philippine navy officers mentioned, including the missiles could be employed primarily by the coastal protection models of the Philippine marines.

Safety officers from each nations signed a protection cooperation pact in March final yr that allowed the Philippines to turn into the primary overseas purchaser of the high-tech missiles developed by India and Russia.