Artillery: Too Much Ain’t Enough


September 9, 2021: On August 12 Pakistan test fired one of its Ghaznavi (Hatf 3) solid-fuel ballistic missiles. This was considered a training event, something Pakistan does with its ballistic missiles on a regular basis to make sure they still work as well as to test the capabilities of the crews and publicize Pakistan’s ballistic missile technology. Most Pakistani ballistic missiles are transported and fired from a large TEL (transporter erector launcher) truck. This makes it difficult for India to find and destroy before it can be used in wartime. All these missiles can carry a nuclear or non-nuclear warhead. That is one reason why there are far fewer TELs for each model missile. Pakistan has a stockpile of nuclear warheads for its larger ballistic missiles, but does not want or expect a nuclear war with India. The non-nuclear, usually just high-explosives, can be used against India or more likely against Afghanistan, now that the Americans are gone and the Taliban are trying to reduce Pakistani meddling with Afghanistan.

For such a small and economically weak country Pakistan has many ballistic missile types in service. Their current defense budget is $8.8 billion, a six percent increase from 2020. Defense consumes 16 percent of the government budget and 2.3 percent of GDP. Pakistan uses deceptive budget practices, like not including military pensions and research efforts in the defense budget. To compare Pakistani spending to other nations, you must apply the same accounting standards. Doing that increases the official defense spending by 50 percent. The reality is that the military gets about a quarter of the government budget and over three percent of GDP. The military also owns a growing portion of the economy and Pakistan is often described as an army with a country attached.

Decades of large defense budgets have made it possible for Pakistan to develop, manufacture and maintain a large and diverse ballistic missile force that includes;

Hatf 1 entered service in 1992 with a range of 70 kilometers and was upgraded three years later with a better rocket motor and range of 100 kilometers.

Hatf 2 (Abdali) entered service in 2002 with a range of 150-190 kilometers, later upgraded to 280-450 kilometers depending on warhead size. Only uses non-nuclear warheads. Apparently based on the Chinese M11 missile which Pakistan bought a few of to study and improve the design of Pakistani solid fuel ballistic missiles.

Hatf 9 (Nasr) entered service in 2013 with a range of 90 kilometers and carried on a TEL that holds four of these 1.2-ton missiles.

Hatf 3 (Ghaznavi) entered service in 2004 with a range of 300 kilometers.

Hatf 4 (Shaheen-I) entered service in 2003 with a range of 750 kilometers, later upgraded to 1,000 kilometers. Weighing ten tons it is launched from a TEL or from fixed locations.

Hatf 5 (Ghauri) entered service in 2003 with a range of 1,400 kilometers and later upgraded to 1,800 kilometers. Uses a liquid fuel motor based on North Korean technology. A few are still in service as part of a program to develop longer range ballistic missiles.

Ababeel entered service in 2017 with a range of 2,200 kilometers and can carry a warhead with three or more nuclear warheads. Only a few were built and are used mainly to develop longer range ballistic missiles.

Hatf 6 (Shaheen 2) entered service in 2015 with a range of 2,500 kilometers and over 40 have been built. A Shaheen 3 version is still in development with a range of 3,200 kilometers.

Ghaznavi and other short-range solid fuel missiles are basically replacements for older liquid fuel Scud missiles. Solid fuel makes it possible to quickly launch the missile. Solid fuel missiles are also cheaper to maintain and use smaller crews that do not require a lot of training.

Pakistan has also developed and put into several cruise missiles since 2007. These have ranges of up to 750 kilometers. India has acquired new air defense systems with some BMD (ballistic missile defense) capability as well as being more capable detecting the low and slow cruise missiles. India does not have enough BMD systems to protect more than a few major cities. Pakistan still has a lot of unprotected Indian targets for the ballistic missiles.




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