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The Wonder Weapon
by James Dunnigan
July 25, 2008

Discussion Board on this DLS topic

Ballistic missiles are becoming more common, and more effective, because of cheaper and more reliable technology. Last year, over a hundred ballistic missile tests were conducted worldwide, most of them by nations other than the two (the U.S. and Russia) who had long dominated the field. These days, the missile tests are more likely to be conducted by Iran, India, North Korea, Pakistan and China.

Most of the proliferation comes from sales of Russian missile technology. That's how North Korea got its start, and North Korea has since become a major exporter of ballistic missile technology to anyone who can pay cash. China has exported much of its Russian origin missile technology. Pakistan has taken this assistance and developed a line of missiles that are pretty typical of what's out there.

The seven missiles of the Pakistani 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. 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. Many countries see possession of ballistic missiles, armed with nuclear warheads, as the ultimate guarantor of their independence, or a powerful tool for forcing neighbors to pay attention and obey. Even with the growing availability of effective anti-missiles missiles (from the U.S., Russia and Israel), ballistic missiles can still get through if you can fire enough of them in a short time.

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