Pakistani missile research and development program

Pakistan's missile research and development programme began with the planning stage in early 1987. According to General Mirza Aslam Beg of the Pakistan Army, once intelligence information that India was already developing nuclear missiles had been authenticated, then President Zia ul Haq was informed. He then made two decisions: firstly, Pakistan would not develop chemical weapons due to moral principles. Secondly, Pakistan would build short and medium range missiles with appropriate guidance systems. The programme has since spawned several strategic missile systems capable of being armed with conventional or nuclear warheads. Designated the Hatf series, the ballistic and cruise missiles have been created by several Pakistani organisations often cooperating or competing with each other.[1][2]

According to General Beg, the Hatf designation was chosen by personnel at the Pakistan Army General Headquarters (GHQ) involved with the research and development programme.[1]


Battle-field range ballistic missiles

The programme's first project was the Hatf I, a ballistic missile with an inertial guidance system, a range of 80 km and a payload of 500 kg. An improved version designated Hatf II, with the same payload but extended range of 250 km, was produced in 1989.[1] The latest battle-field range system to be produced is the Hatf IX Nasr, which is widely believed to be a delivery system for tactical nuclear weapons.

Short and medium range ballistic missiles

The first of Pakistan's larger missile systems, the Hatf III Ghaznavi with a range of 600 km and payload of 500 kg, was first tested in July 1997 and is stated to have been a major break-through. It had a two-stage solid fuel rocket motor and a more advanced terminal guidance system with an on-board computer. Five different types of warhead have been designed for the missile and they can be delivered with a claimed Circular Error Probability (CEP) of 0.1% at 600 km. The Ghaznavi is believed to have been based on the Chinese M-11 missile [3] but it has been claimed that the Ghaznavi's guidance system was developed entirely in Pakistan.[1]

The Ghauri series are liquid-fuelled ballistic missiles whose development was headed by the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL). The development is believed to have been led by Abdul Qadeer Khan.[4] Development of the first two variants, Ghauri I and Ghauri II was completed in the 1990s. According to the memoirs of AQ Khan, the development of the Ghauri III variant was stopped by Pervez Musharraf in 2000 with the project being around 50% complete.

The Shaheen series are solid-fuelled ballistic missiles developed by the National Development Complex (NDC), which was founded by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. The SUPARCO and DESTO organisations were also involved. The electronics were developed by other NESCOM subsidiaries such as Margalla Electronics. The Shaheen programme was highly ambitious considering Pakistan's lack of infrastructure. Two Shaheen variants are known to have been completed and made operational, the Shaheen-I and Shaheen-II. The Shaheen-III is believed to be under development.

Cruise missiles

In 2005 the Hatf VII Babur ground-launched cruise missile was revealed in a public test-firing. Early versions had a range of 500 km but later a 700 km variant was tested. In 2007 the Hatf VIII Ra'ad, an air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) was revealed in a test by the Pakistan Air Force. It has a stated range of 350 km.


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