THE Philippine defence chief signed an 18.9bil peso (RM1.5bil) deal with India to acquire the military’s first shore-based anti-ship missile system that he said would be used to defend the country’s sovereignty.
Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signed the contract with BrahMos Aerospace Director General Atul Dinkar Rane in a ceremony via video and a face-to-face meeting attended by Philippine and Indian government and military officials.
Despite financial constraints and the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippines has managed to proceed with a decades-long programme to modernise its military, one of Asia’s most underfunded.
It has acquired warships, aircraft and weapons.
“As the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos missiles will provide deterrence against any attempt to undermine our sovereign rights,” Lorenzana said.
The missile firepower “will provide counterattack capabilities within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone,” he said.
Lorenzana was referring to a 200-nautical-mile (370km) stretch of sea where coastal states have been granted exclusive rights to explore and tap fish and other sea resources under the 1982 UN Convention of the Law of the Sea.
The weapons system consists of three batteries of missiles, mobile land-based launchers, training for operators and maintenance units and logistical support, the Department of Defence said.
The missiles could travel up to three times the speed of sound, making it hard to interdict, Philippine military officials said, adding the missiles would be employed by the Philippine marines. — AP