MELBOURNE, Australia — The Philippines has signed a contract with an Indian company for shore-based medium-range supersonic anti-ship missiles, enhancing the U.S. ally’s ability to target adversarial ships from land.

Philippine National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the head of BrahMos Aerospace, Atul Dinkar Rane, signed the 18.9 billion peso (U.S. $368 million) deal Friday for three batteries of Brahmos anti-ship missiles in a virtual ceremony.

A missile battery typically consists of three autonomous, mobile launchers with two or three missile tubes each, along with attached command-and-control technology, radar, and support vehicles and units.

The contract signing ceremony, held at the Department of National Defense headquarters in the capital Manila, was also attended by India’s ambassador to the Philippines, according to a report carried by the official Philippine News Agency.

The event took place less than a month after Lorenzana signed the notice of award for the Philippine Navy’s BrahMos acquisition effort.

Underscoring the urgency of the procurement, the project was fast-tracked by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2020, being moved from the Horizon 3 phase of the Philippines’ modernization program scheduled for 2023-2027 to the Horizon 2 priority projects list that spans 2018-2022.

Lorenzana had earlier said deliveries of the first systems were expected to start within a year of the signing of the contract, which is a government-to-government deal between the Philippines and India.

The BrahMos is guided by an active radar homing system or by satellite, and it has an inertial navigation system for midcourse guidance. The missile’s punch comes in the form of a 200-kilogram (440-pound) warhead.

It is propelled by a solid-fuel first booster stage and a liquid-fuel ramjet second stage, propelling the missile to speeds around Mach 4, or four times the speed of sound.

The export variant has a range of 290 kilometers (180 miles). That range is downrated to comply with international agreements, but would still be sufficient for the Philippines to provide cover for some of its holdings in the disputed South China Sea.

The Philippines has been among the most vociferous is objecting to China’s construction activities and assertive behavior in the disputed islands and features of the South China Sea. In 2016, the Philippines won a ruling from an international tribunal against China’s reclamation and construction activities there, although China has not recognized the decision.

Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.

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