Strategic Weapons: Pakistan Perfects Its Nuclear Threat


December 4, 2014: On November 13th Pakistan successfully tested another long-range (1,500 kilometers) Hatf VI ballistic missile, of the type used to deliver nuclear weapons against India. The Hatf VI IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) entered service in 2008 although it was declared “ready for service” in 2004. Also known as Shaheen 2, it is moved using a transporter erector launcher (TEL), which is a 15.6 meter (fifty foot) long, six axle vehicle.

 Hatf VI 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 400-500 kg (900-1100 pound) payload. This M-18 missile has the longest range of any of the current M/DF-series missiles. The mobile, two-stage missile is said to be able to carry a one ton payload (one 35 kiloton nuclear warhead.) There have been over ten successful test launches of Hatf VI in the last four years. The missiles 2,000 kilometer maximum range puts Bombay, New Delhi, Lucknow, and Jaipur, as well as all military targets in northern India, within reach.

The eight missiles of the Hatf series were all developed since the 1980s. 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 carried 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 25 ton Hatf VI (for which more than a dozen TELs have been spotted). 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. It was first tested in 2005 and entered service in 2011. Haft VII uses a three missile transporter/erector/launcher (TEL) designed for "shoot and scoot." That means that the launcher can quickly launch a missile, return the missile canister to the horizontal position and move out of the area. This is because radars and other sensors can quickly spot where a missile is launched vertically, and attack the missile transporter. With a range of 700 kilometers, Hatf VII is based on the American Tomahawk cruise missile. Pakistan collected a lot of information on Tomahawk after several of them crashed in Pakistan in 1998 during a mass cruise missile attack on al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Hatf VII has been adapted for use from aircraft and ships.

 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. While many Pakistanis have long feared Indian invasion and conquest, few Indians want to absorb Pakistan and all its economic, ethnic and political problems.





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