Artillery: Short Range, Mobile And Nuclear


July 25, 2017: In early July 2017 Pakistan successfully tested a new version of its Hatf 9 ballistic missile. This one was described as having a longer range (70 kilometers) and an improved guidance system that provides some ability to avoid anti-missile missiles. This short range missile has also become an important part of the Pakistani nuclear weapons capability.

After 2010 Pakistan found itself forced to develop a response to India improving its mechanized forces. India had also changed its war plans to stress rapidly launching a mechanized attack across the border. Pakistan could not match that on the ground and instead developed a short range, solid fuel ballistic missile, Hatf 9, carrying a nuclear warhead and launched from a highly mobile vehicle.

First tested in 2011 Hatf 9 entered service in 2013 as the latest model in the Hatf line of nuclear armed missiles. With a range of only 60 kilometers, Hatf 9 was small enough for two to be mounted on one vehicle. It's trajectory is flatter than most ballistic missiles, making it more difficult for anti-missile systems to hit. The apparent size and range of the Hatf 9 was similar to the Russian OTR-21 (SS-21). Introduced in the late 1970s, the two ton, 650mm diameter, 6.4 meter (21 foot) long SS-21 had a range of 70 kilometers and a half ton warhead (large enough for existing Pakistani nuclear warheads). North Korea, a regular supplier of missile technology to Pakistan, had built its own version of the SS-21, but Pakistan apparently got the tech for a single stage ballistic missile from China which had independently developed new missiles similar to the SS-21.