August 6, 2013

Pakistan's Nuclear Missiles - at late 2012

Blue dotted line on map indicates the (presumably normal payload) range of Pakistan's Shaheen II MRBM. Very much orientated to India but also in range of Israel.

 Video of one of Pakistan's test flights of Hatf-VII "Babur" cruise missile having a range of 700 kms.
Given Pakistan's development of nuclear weapons the following might overemphasise Pakistan's reliance on foreign support for its missile programs. The US Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) organisation has published this analysis* of Pakistan's nuclear missiles last updated February 2013. The following is the most recent-final portion of the analysis

Recent Developments and Current Status

"In 2005, India and Pakistan signed an agreement requiring both parties to provide advance notice of any ballistic missile tests. [43] Since 2007, testing activity of the Ghauri and Shaheen missiles has slowed and the majority of new developments have appeared in cruise, rather than ballistic missile systems. [44] Potential causes for this include India's investment in a ballistic missile defense system, the Ghauri and Shaheen missiles acquiring sufficient range and payload to target strategic locations in India, international pressure against intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile tests, and a shift in focus toward developing a tactical nuclear capability. [45]

[Aditional comment - the Shaheen 2 MRBM has been six times since 2004, and this missile system probably will soon be deployed]

The 2005 inaugural test-flight of the Hatf-7/Babur cruise missile stunned many observers for its technological complexity and its undetected development. [46] The extent of foreign assistance remains unclear —analysts identified design similarities with Chinese cruise missiles as well as American Tomahawk missiles, which previously crash-landed over Pakistan. [47] In 2007, Pakistan test-fired the Hatf-8/Ra'ad cruise missile, adding air-launch missile capabilities to the Pakistan Air Force. [48] While Pakistan officially claimed that NDC indigenously developed the Hatf-8, some believe that the modest range of the missile suggests foreign assistance by a country unwilling to contravene MTCR range and payload restrictions. [49] More recently, Pakistan test-fired the Hatf-9/NASR, a short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile in April 2011. Observers immediately speculated that the Hatf-9/NASR test indicated potential Pakistani intention to develop a tactical nuclear capability —an interest potentially motivated further by India's "Cold Start" doctrine. [50]

Despite flight test successes, however, analysts remain sceptical about Pakistan's indigenous design and manufacturing capabilities. The lack of robust government-industry-university R&D linkages, a known dependence on foreign suppliers for key raw materials such as steel alloys, and the technological inexperience of private industry cast doubt upon Pakistan's missile design claims. [51]

While Pakistani scientists increasingly participate in basic science collaboration with foreign laboratories, such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the country's industrial base lacks a demonstrated history of producing quality high-tech products. [52] A history of indigenous design claims refuted by intelligence sources further complicates assessments. [53] Analysts estimate that even gaining liquid propulsion expertise will take until at least 2013. [54] Thus, Pakistani missile development will likely remain dependent on foreign assistance for both materials and expertise in the near-term. Nevertheless Pakistan has maintained a successful missile acquisition strategy in spite of foreign dependence and a history of MTCR and U.S. Arms Export Control Act and Export Administration Act sanctions, and already boasts one of the top ten ballistic missile manufacturing capabilities in the world. [55]

Barring unprecedented industrial growth and a substantially enhanced defense-industrial base, Pakistan will likely continue its strategy of developing advanced missile systems with foreign assistance rather than pursuing the more expensive and less feasible option of pure indigenous development or advanced aircraft acquisition. [56] Continued state patronage, fuelled by competition with India, the high prestige accorded to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, and the symbolic value of diversifying missile delivery systems will likely sustain continued missile development in Pakistan.[57]

* This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright © 2013 National Journal Group, Inc., 600 New Hampshire Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20037."

See the rest of this analysis and references-endnotes at


jbmoore said...

Great. They reverse engineer crashed American cruise missiles with Chinese assistance. Now, there will be a greater arms race with India which neither country can afford. If some idiot decides that Venus is an oncoming missile, both countries can nuke one another back into the Stone Age shortly just as they were making better strides in helping their populations (India at least).

TFH said...

If a sys admin can hack NSA and Talibans can hack drones, how long till somebody hacks a nuclear missile and holds the world for ransom à la Bond villain?

Hope the UFO's will be on hand to disable them :)

Pete said...


I suppose nuclear weapons are matters of national perspective. Even the nuclear big boys (US and Russia) could have used the $trillions spent on nuclear weapons more wisely.

In the late 1940s the US built many more nukes to counterbalance Russian Army superiority in Europe. Meanwhile the Russians reverse engineered the Pu implosion device used at Nagasaki - plans supplied by Soviet agent Klaus Fuchs.

Pakistan countered India's vast conventional superiority (eg 1971 invasion) with nukes.



Pete said...


I don't think Snowden hacked the NSA rather he WAS an integral part of the NSA - so used overly simple download procedures to his laptops.

But yes hacking drones may be simple as its been done by US universities for test drones in the US. Hopefully the US will encrypt control signals more strongly.

Yeah bizarre or very rare possibilities (Alien or otherwise) should always be factored into non-launch security for nuclear missiles.



laldo said...

India shud abandon its No First Use for launching nuclear missile,the rest will be history for the whole sub asia continenet.Allah also may not be able to help pakistan.

Pak Sar Zameen said...

Pakistan has many long range and short range missiles. One of the most dangerous missile of Pakistan is Shaheen 1 Missile. First version of this missile has a range of 750 kilometers. But there is an improved version of this missile too. Pakistan strategic forces have not yet revealed the range of this improved version of missile. You can read more about this missile here.....
Shaheen 1 Missile Of Pakistan
Feel free to share your feedback...