Pakistan successfully test-fired an indigenously developed nuclear-capable cruise missile with “stealth features”, the military said on Monday, the country’s first such exercise in more than three months.
The military described the Hatf-VII Babur missile as a “low-flying, terrain-hugging missile, which can strike targets both at land and sea with pin point accuracy” and has a range of 700 kilometres.
A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the missile is equipped with modern cruise missile technology of Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC), and is also capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads.
The ISPR said Monday’s launch was carried out from a “Multi Tube Missile Launch Vehicle (MLV)”, which it said improved the Babur system’s targeting and deployment capabilities.
The test was witnessed by Director General Strategic Plans Division Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) Chairperson Muhammad Irfan Burney and other senior officers from the armed forces and strategic organisations. The Strategic Command and Control Support System (SCCSS) was employed for the test, which allows real-time remote monitoring of the missile’s flight path.
Significance of the test
Defence and missile expert Syed Muhammad Ali, while talking to The Express Tribune, highlighted the significance of the missile test.
“The Babur cruise missile is a far more advanced, miniaturised, accurate, stealthy and cost-effective nuclear delivery means available to Pakistan and after (its) induction, imposing a naval blockade on Pakistan will be impossible for any power in the future. In addition, the range limitation relevant to ballistic missiles deployment is not applicable in the case of cruise missiles because they can be launched from both land and sea-based mobile platforms,” Ali said.
He added that Pakistan now had the capability to exercise a complete and robust command and control over its cruise missiles throughout its flight trajectory and can be employed in both countervalue and counterforce targeting strategies.
Furthermore, Ali said that the Hatf-VII Babur missile was a cost-effective delivery system, adding that Pakistan could manufacture more than a dozen cruise missiles at the cost of a single ballistic missile.
“The upgraded capability of cruise missile Babar to hit mobile sea-based targets with both conventional and nuclear warheads has further augmented the value of our nuclear deterrence by proving to the world that Pakistan can protect not only its territory but also its maritime security from all powers at all times,” Ali added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.