|AT A time when the armed forces of India and Pakistan stand eyeball to eyeball on the border, the latter has test-fired three ballistic missiles — Ghauri, Ghaznavi and Abdali — in the last few days. An analysis indicates that its motive could be three-fold.
One, the event is aimed at its domestic audience: To silence the ruling General's critics (political, religious and others) who have been accusing him of having brought their country to the edge of a precipice endangering its very existence.
Two, to tell the world, particularly the US, to do everything possible to restrain India from launching a military strike on Pakistan, even if it is a limited one, and forcing an international intervention on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
And, finally, to demonstrate its non-conventional (nuclear, to be precise) strike power and send a message to India that Pakistan is ready to use weapons of mass destruction if a war breaks out.
Pakistan is perceived to have acquired missile capability in the late 1980s. Three major factors — the easy availability of Chinese missiles and missile-related technologies, its inability to obtain the delivery of all its F-16 fighters from the US and the success of India's missile development programme — were to be the main reasons for Pakistan's missile acquisitions.
Following the latest tests, Pakistan's missile arsenal now consists of the Hatf — I, II ,III, IV, V,VI, and so on.
The Hatf-I is a single-stage solid propellant missile with a range of 60-80 km and a payload capacity of 500 kg. It was first flight-tested in 1989 and a larger 100 km range variant was most recently test-fired in early 2000.
It is believed to be in service in limited numbers.
The Haft-II, also known as Abdali, is a solid-propellant ballistic missile with a range of 180 km and a payload capacity of 500 kg. Abdali was first test-fired in February 1989 and, more recently, on May 28.
The Hatf-III, also known as the Ghaznavi, is a solid fuel short-range ballistic missile with a range of 290 km and a payload capacity of 500 kg. This missile, which closely resembles the Chinese M-11 missile, was for the first time test-fired on May 26. The Hatf-IV, also called Shaheen-I, has a range of 750 km and a payload capacity of 700 kg. This solid fuel missile, which is based on the Chinese M-9 missile design, was first flight-tested in April 1999. Shaheen-I is reportedly to have entered serial production in mid 1998.
Hatf-V, also named Ghauri, is a single-stage liquid fuel IRBM with a range of 1,500 km and a payload capacity of 700 kg. This missile was first test-fired in April 1998. There is another version, Ghauri-II, a liquid fuel, two- stage IRBM (intermediate range ballistic missile) with a claimed range of 2,300 km.
It was first flight-tested in April 1999. The Ghauris are believed to be derived from the North Korean Nodong missile.
A longer range, two-stage solid fuel missile Hatf-VI, also called Shaheen-II, was unveiled during the Pakitan Day Parade on March 23, 2000.
This missile, which is yet to be test-fired, is likely to have a range of 2,500 km with a 1,000 kg payload. Beside the Hatf series, longer range missiles — Tipu and Haider — have also been reported.
India began a comprehensive missile development programme, the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), in 1983. With an initial budget of Rs 380 crore, the programme envisaged "to take up simultaneously the design and development of five missiles which would provide the nation a comprehensive missile-based Defence umbrella within ten years''.
The five missiles include the short-range surface-to-air missile Trishul; the surface-to-air missile, Akash; the smokeless high-energy anti-tank guided missile Nag; the surface-to-surface missile Prithvi, and the intermediate range missile Agni. Of these, only Prithvi and Agni are ballistic missiles.
Prithvi is a single stage, road mobile, liquid fuel battle-field support missile.
This 8.5 m short-range missile, costing Rs 5 crore a piece, was first test-fired in February 1988. Several variants of the missile have been developed.
Prithvi-I, or the Army version, has the maximum range of 150 km and a payload capacity of 1,000 kg. This missile has been produced and inducted into the Army.
Prithvi-II, or the Air-force version, has a range of 250 km with a warhead weight of 500-700 kg. The development work on this missile is complete. The Prithvi-III, for the Navy, and also called Dhanush, has a range of 350 km and a warhead weight of 1,000 kg. This missile is under development.
The intermediate range Agni is India's second ballistic missile. It is a two-stage IRBM 18.4 m long and 1.3 body diameter.
It has a range of 1,000 km and a payload capacity of 1,000 kg. It is based on first stage solid and second stage liquid fuel configuration.
As an IRBM, Agni provides many battle-field advantages such as better interception rate, sp