Pakistan’s Acquisition of an Advanced Missile Technology

By: Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

India’s acquisition of missile technology (transferred to it by the Western countries) and other high-profile defence equipment is well beyond her legitimate defence requirements. It poses a valid and active threat to Pakistan’s security. To counterpoise India’s cold start doctrine and to prevent the Indian nuclear threat/foreign aggression, Islamabad has adopted an astute security trajectory via revitalizing its missile technology, which, under a professional command of the SPD is being systematically developed and upgraded in two forms of our missile technology advancement: one is the short- range missile program while the other is the long- range missile program.

In the modern defence concept, the missile system is the most essential element. In fact, it is now the core of any viable defence structure and the cutting edge of an adequate defence capability of any nation. It cannot therefore be ignored by the defence planners. Missile-based threats are becoming an ever-increasing element of the strategic landscape in South Asia. Pakistan has diversified but integrated missile command and authority system. It has vast spectrum of both ballistic and cruise missiles for nuclear weapon delivery. The significance of Pakistan’s missile technology, resulting in the test-firing of its cruise and ballistic missile system— now seems to be a sheet-anchor of our national defence system. Pakistan is likely to remain focused on developing and improving short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles to deter India’s conventional military superiority despite the second successful test of India’s long-range, nuclear-capable Agni-5 missile, experts said in recent interviews. Pakistan recently declared that it had successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Arabian Sea, aimed at “revalidating” the weapon’s operational and technical parameters.

On Feb 11, Pakistan conducted a successful training launch of a surface-to-surface cruise missile which can strike targets up to 450 kilometres, the Army said, the country’s third missile test in three weeks. The Babar missile ‘is capable of engaging targets at land and sea with high precision,” the Army said in a statement, adding that the missile was launched from a state-of-the-art multi-tube launch vehicle. On February 3, Pakistan Army successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile which can strike targets up to 290 kilometres. The launch of Ghaznavi missile was ‘culmination of Annual Field Training Exercise of Army Strategic Forces Command. The Shaheen III surface-to-surface missile, which the country first fired in 2015, can carry nuclear and conventional warheads up to 2,750 kilometers. The range, analysts said, enables the solid-fueled, multistage rocket to reach targets anywhere neighboring India, Pakistan’s archrival, and in parts of the Middle East. The range, analysts said, enables the solid-fueled, multistage rocket to reach targets anywhere in neighboring India, Pakistan’s archrival, and in parts of the Middle East. Seen in its historical perspective, it goes without saying that the testing of Hatf V (Ghauri) missile is the result of the dedication, hard work and single- minded devotion to a cause displayed by our scientists and engineers working on the research and development of missile technology. Initially Hatf I was developed with a range of 80 kilometers and a payload of 500 kgs. Efforts continued to improve its performance, resulting in Hatf II with an enhanced range of 250 kms and the same payload of 500 kgs. Both were free flight missiles with inertial guidance systems following a ballistic trajectory. Hatf II was produced in 1989 and displayed in the Pakistan Day parade on March 23, 1990 and 1991.

Despite the fact that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, which should have introduced a degree of deterrent certainty, the ground reality has not changed much. The malicious introduction of the Cold Start Doctrine, i.e. a limited war under a nuclear overhang, by the Indian Army, has had the effect of negatively escalating the fragile balance between the two nuclear-armed states. Ironically, this strategy has gained a fair degree of currency in academic circles, bordering on the possibility of strategy’s applicability. In April 2011, Pakistan declared that it had tested a short-range battlefield nuclear missile, the Nasr.1 Since then, prominent purveyors of Pakistani nuclear doctrine, including Lieutenant General (Retd) Khalid Kidwai have portrayed the Nasr missile as a counter to India’s “Cold Start” war doctrine. Today, Pakistan has vast spectrum of both ballistic and cruise missiles for nuclear weapon delivery. Its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles include the Hatf-1 (range 100 km); the Hatf-2 (the Abdali, range 200 km); the Ghaznavi (Hatf-3, range 290 km); the Shaheen-I (Hatf-4, range 750 km); the Ghauri (Hatf-5, range 1,500 km); the Shaheen-II (Hatf-6, range 2,000 km); the Shaheen-III (an upgraded Hatf-4, range 2,750 km); and the Nasr (Hatf-9, range 60 km), a short-range missile with the stated capability to “add deterrence value at shorter ranges.

The testing of Hatf III in July last year was a major breakthrough in missile development in Pakistan. It has a range of 600 kms with a payload of 500 kgs and a proper terminal guidance system giving it an accuracy of 0.1 per cent, as the circular error probability (CEP) at 600 kms, similar to the Indian Prithvi surface to surface ballistic missile at 250 kms. This meant that Hatf III was to be controlled by an on-board computer for accuracy and was not to follow a purely ballistic trajectory. The main features of Hatf III missile are its two-stage rocket ability for war-head separation, a terminal guidance system and five different types of warheads. The most difficult part of the missile was the guidance system which was developed entirely by Pakistani engineers and scientists. By successfully test-firing Hatf V (Ghauri) missile overland within Pakistan territory, our engineers and scientists have amply demonstrated their own technical skills and accuracy of the missile. India on the other hand tests her missiles from the missile range at Chandipur-on-Sea on the Orissa coast, and these are fired into the Bay of Bengal. Veritably, in the given South As ian strategic landscape, both India and Pakistan induct missiles into military units and push the performance envelope of missile capabilities, it is important to assess ways to limit the threats posed by these missiles. Regional stability with respect to missiles has both political and technical components. From a deterrence standpoint, striving to maintain some parity in capabilities could be a politically stabilizing factor in reducing the likelihood of conflict. The Introduction of missiles might serve to correct imbalances in nuclear or conventional capabilities. In order to achieve its strategic balance, Pakistan’s missile program under the supervision, of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) is rapidly evolving, achieving greater accuracy, payload capacity, and range.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *