Strategic Weapons: Pakistani Ballistic Missile Arsenal

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May 11, 2010:  On May 2nd, Pakistan successfully test fired two of its nuclear armed missiles. One was the Shaheen 1 (Hatf IV), which weighs 9.5 tons, and carries a one ton warhead, to a maximum 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. The other missile tested was the four ton Ghaznavi (Hatf III), which was first tested three years ago, and appears to be based on the Chinese DF-11. 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. China has long been selling military technology to Pakistan, but it appears that nuclear warhead technology has not been offered.

The largest Pakistani ballistic missile is the Shaheen 2, which 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 one ton payload. There have been over half a dozen successful test launches of the Shaheen 2 in the last six years. The missiles now have a range of 2,000 kilometers, which puts Bombay, New Delhi, Lucknow, and Jaipur, as well as all military targets in northern India, within range. Satellite 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 several dozen of the fifty foot long, six axle vehicles have been built there in the last three years.

Pakistan has a full range of solid fuel rockets. In addition to those mentioned above, there is 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.

 

 


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