Strategic Weapons: October 6, 2003

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Last week, Pakistan conducted another test of it's Hatf III ballistic missile. This weapon is based on the Chinese M-11 design, which is in turn based on the Russian SCUD series. Pakistan is thought to have paid China $185 million for 34 M-11 missiles and at least 12 mobile launchers in the late 1990s. At about the same time, Pakistan paid another half a billion dollars for the technology (plans and equipment) to manufacture their own M-11 missiles. This design is pretty simple, but involves a liquid fuel rocket engine, which is inherently more complex than solid fuel rockets. However, the technology to build solid fuel rockets is beyond Pakistan's current capabilities. The biggest challenge facing Pakistan at the moment is building a half ton nuclear warhead for the Hatf III. This is no easy task, as they must not only shrink their crude initial nuclear weapons designs, but also make them rugged enough to withstand the stresses of take off and re-entry. Using a high explosive warhead on a five million dollar missile is not something cash starved Pakistan can afford, so they must figure out how to make the smaller warheads. Pakistan has also purchased longer ranged (1,000 kilometers) Nodong missiles from North Korea. These have been re-named the Hatf V and carry a 1500 pound warhead. These missiles are more complex and less reliable, so it is thought that the first operational Pakistani nuclear missile will be the Hatf III.

 


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