Strategic Weapons: Pakistan Has India Covered


May 2, 2012:  On April 25th Pakistan successfully tested a new version of its Shaheen 1 (Hatf IV) missile. The new one is being called Shaheen 1A and it has a range of 1,500 kilometers. The Shaheen 1 weighs 9.5 tons and carries a one ton warhead, to a maximum range of 700 kilometers. The 10 ton Shaheen 1A carries a smaller warhead and has more rocket fuel. The Shaheen 1A could cover most of northern India. The Shaheen 1A technology is considered more reliable than that used in the longer ranged Shaheen 2.

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 since then modified it somewhat. 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 half ton warhead. This M-18 missile has the longest range of any of the current M/DF-series missiles. There have been over half a dozen successful test launches of the Shaheen 2 in the last eight years. The missiles now have a range of 2,000 kilometers and can cover all but the southern tip of India. 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 fifty or more of the 16.1 meter (fifty foot) long, six axle vehicles have been built there in the last five 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 has a range of 80 kilometers, followed by larger and longer range models until Hatf IV.

In response to all this India has developed, and is about to deploy, an anti-missile system that can knock down some of the long range Pakistani ballistic missiles.



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