Strategic Weapons: May 16, 2004

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In March, Pakistan test-fired  its most advanced surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the Shaheen 2, which can deliver a nuclear warhead deep into India. The missile has a 2,080 kilometer range, putting Bombay, New Delhi, Lucknow, and Jaipur within strike range. The test was fired from the coast into the Indian ocean. Pakistan did give advance word to Bombay before the test, which seemed to take the test in stride as it continues to work with Islamabad in resolving the long-simmering dispute over Kashmir. 

Japan was far less sanguine and scolded Pakistan for the test. Pakistani President Musharraf -- publicly remaining an ally of the US in fighting international terrorism has been under harsh criticism for not clamping-down on Pakistani scientists who have sold nuclear information to possible terrorist states. Israel remains outside of the missile's range.

 The Shaheen-II 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 900-1100 pound payload. This M-18 missile has the longest range of any of the current M-series missiles. The mobile, two-stage missile is said to be able to carry a 2,200-pound payload (one 35 kiloton yield nuclear warhead.) 


The intermediate range, solid propellant, single warhead, ballistic missile is believed to be based upon both the Hatf 7 and the Shaheen 1 missiles, using a modified Shaheen 1 motor assembly and a complete Shaheen 1 missile as the second stage. It may be a scaled-up version of the M-11/DF-11 missile in service for over ten years by China. The Federation of American Scientists reports that Pakistan received between 30 and 80 M-11 missiles from China in 1993, and that a production facility was built in near Rawalpindi. There are also reports that alternative HE, chemical, and submunition warheads have been developed, and that the missile uses inertial guidance, with a suggested accuracy of 500 to 750 meters CEP (Circular Error Probable, meaning half the time the warhead will land within that number of meters of the target).

A Shaheen 3 may be in the works but this remains unconfirmed. -- K.B. Sherman

 


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