Strategic Weapons: Pakistani IRBM Enters Service


April 24,2008: Pakistan has declared its Hatf VI IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) ready for service. Also known as the the Shaheen 2, it is moved using a transporter erector launcher (TEL), which is a fifty foot long, six axle vehicle.

The Hatf VI 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 (one 35 kiloton nuclear warhead.) There have been at least five successful test launches of the Shaheen 2 in the last four 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.

The seven missiles of the Hatf series were all developed in the last twenty years. The smallest of these 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. The four ton Hatf III has a range of some 300 kilometers and also carries a half ton warhead. The Hatf IV, weighing 9.5 tons, and carrying a one ton warhead, has a range of 700 kilometers. The sixteen ton Hatf V is the only remaining liquid fuel missile in service. First tested in 1998, it has a range of some 2,000 kilometers and carries a .7 ton warhead. However, this missile will probably be quickly replaced by the Hatf VI (for which at least a dozen TELs have been spotted). This missile was first publicly displayed in 2000, but has required many years of further development. Finally, the 1.5 ton Haft VII is a cruise missile, with a range of 700 kilometers. This system was first tested in 2005.

Pakistan has imported a lot of Chinese and North Korean missile technology, and has bought missile components from both countries. Pakistani nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles that can get past any Indian defenses, are seen as the ultimate guarantee that Pakistan will not be conquered by India. While many Pakistanis have long feared Indian invasion and conquest, few Indians want to absorb Pakistan and all its economic, ethnic and political problems.




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