May 14, 2007:
photos of a Pakistani factory 30 kilometers southwest of the capital show transporter
erector launchers (TELs) being assembled for the Shaheen 2 ballistic missile.
It appears that fifteen of the fifty foot long, six axle vehicles are in
various stages of completion.
The Shaheen 2 is believed
to be an upgraded Pakistani version of the Chinese M-18, which was originally
shown at the 1987 Beijing air show as a two-stage missile with a 1,000 km range
and carrying a 900-1100 pound payload. This M-18 missile has the longest range
of any of the current M/DF-series missiles. The mobile, two-stage missile is
said to be able to carry a 2,200-pound payload (one 35 kiloton yield nuclear
warhead.) There have been four successful test launches of the Shaheen 2 in the last three years. The missiles 2,000 kilometer
range puts Bombay, New Delhi, Lucknow, and Jaipur, as well as all military
targets in northern India, within range.
Last November, Pakistan
conducted another successful test of its Shaheen 1 (Hatf IV) missile. Weighing
9.5 tons, and carrying a one ton warhead, the missile has a range of 700
kilometers. The Shaheen 1 entered service in 2003, and is apparently a variant
of the Chinese DF-9 missile. Pakistan is believed to have received the solid
fuel DF-9 in the 1990s, and has modified it somewhat.
What's remarkable about
Pakistan is that it now has a full range of solid fuel rockets. The 1.5 ton
Hatf I, which appeared in 1989, has a range of 80 kilometers and a half ton
warhead. Also showing up in 1989, the 2.5 ton Hatf II has a range of 180
kilometers, and also carries a half ton warhead. The four ton Hatf III, which
was first tested earlier this year, appears to be based on the Chinese DF-11.
China has long been selling military technology to Pakistan. This missile has a
range of some 300 kilometers and also carries a half ton warhead.
Pakistan began producing
the Hatf IV in the late 1990s, although it was not tested until 1999. The
design appears to be well thought out, for the Hatf IV has had several
successful tests. It's not known if Pakistan has a nuclear warhead of equal
reliability. Such warheads are difficult to design, manufacture and test.