April 1, 2015: Strategy Page
On March 9, 2015 Pakistan successfully launched its Shaheen 3 IRBM ballistic missile for the first time. This missile, now proven to work, has the longest range (2,700 kilometers) of any Pakistani missile and can reach all of India. Shaheen 3 is a solid fuel missile while most of Pakistan’s earlier long-range missiles were liquid fueled. Shaheen 3 was developed in secrecy, perhaps because Pakistan was unsure if they could perfect the technology for producing large solid fuel rocket motors. Pakistan had to obtain this tech from somewhere else because Pakistan does not have the industrial infrastructure to do it themselves. China was the most likely donor and China would do this largely because Pakistani ballistic missiles aimed at India make Indian anti-missile defenses less effective against Chinese ballistic missiles.
Meanwhile Pakistan has continued work on its liquid fuel missiles. In early 2012 Pakistan successfully tested a new version of its Shaheen 1 (Hatf IV) missile. The new one is being called Shaheen 1A and it has a range of 1,500 kilometers. The Shaheen 1 weighs 9.5 tons and carries a one ton warhead, to a maximum range of 700 kilometers. The 10 ton Shaheen 1A carries a smaller warhead and has more rocket fuel. The Shaheen 1A could cover most of northern India. The Shaheen 1A technology is considered more reliable than that used in the longer ranged Shaheen 2.
The Shaheen 1 entered service in 2003, and is apparently a variant of the Chinese M-9 missile. Pakistan is believed to have received the solid fuel M-9 in the 1990s, and since then modified it somewhat. Pakistan began producing the Hatf IV in the late 1990s, although it was not tested until 1999. The design appears to be well thought out, for the Hatf IV has had several successful tests. It's not known if Pakistan has a nuclear warhead of equal reliability. Such warheads are difficult to design, manufacture, and test. China has long been selling military technology to Pakistan but it appears that nuclear warhead technology has not been offered.
Until the successful test of the Shaheen 3 the largest Pakistani ballistic missile was the Shaheen 2, which 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 half ton warhead. This M-18 missile has the longest range of any of the current M/DF-series missiles. There have been over half a dozen successful test launches of the Shaheen 2 since 2004. These missiles now have a range of 2,000 kilometers and can cover all but the southern tip of India. Satellite photos of a Pakistani factory 30 kilometers southwest of the capital show transporter erector launchers (TELs) being assembled for the Shaheen 2 ballistic missile. It appears that fifty or more of the 16.1 meter (fifty foot) long, six axle vehicles have been built there in the last five years. Shaheen 3 also uses a TEL.
Pakistan has a full range of solid fuel rockets. In addition to those mentioned above, there is the 1.5 ton Hatf I, which has a range of 80 kilometers, followed by larger and longer range models until Shaheen 3. In response to all this India has developed, and is about to deploy, an anti-missile system that can knock down some of the long range Pakistani ballistic missiles.