Pakistan Test Fires Nuclear-Capable Hatf-VII Cruise Missile

In the recent test launch Hatf VII was fired from a new canister, representing a more mature development stage, as the system nears fielding on ground or naval platforms. Pakistani scientists are already working on a long-range version capable of ranges up to 1,000 km. Photo: Pakistan Military Review

Pakistan successfully tested Hatf-VII nuclear-capable cruise missile which flew up to of a range of 600 km. The missile, also called Babur (after the 16th-century Muslim ruler, founder of the Mughal Empire) is designed to reach up to 750 km, fired from ground launchers, surface ships and, potentially, submarines.

According to Pakistan’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Khalid Shamim Wynne, the new missile would help in consolidating Pakistan’s strategic deterrence capability. “Babur can carry strategic and conventional warheads” said Major General Athar Abbas, a military spokesman. Abbas described the missile’s main attributes as low-level flight (terrain-following), stealth and radar avoidance features, high manoeuvrability and pinpoint accuracy. The missile uses passive guidance employing Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching && Area Correlation (DSMAC) to achieve an accuracy of 3 meter Circular Error Point (CEP), used in surgical strikes.

Work on Hatf-VII Babur cruise missile began in mid 1990. In 1998 Pakistan obtained at least two U.S. Navy RGM/UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired against targets in Afghanistan; These missiles are believed to have helped Pakistani scientists operating under the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) to gain insight into the cruise missile design. It took the Pakistanis seven years to complete the design and achieve a successful first flight in 2005, reaching a range of 500 km. The current missile was fired at a range of 600 km, and according to Pakistani sources, the current design has a maximum range of 750km. Scientists are already working to extend the range to 1,000 km.

Pakistan has been developing an arsenal of missiles and has tested in December the medium-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile Hatf V which has a range of 1,300 km. Strategic missiles launched by Pakistan and India represent milestones in the strategic arms race raging by the two countries. In December 2010 India tested its two nuclear-capable, short-range Prithvi-II ballistic missiles with a range of 350 km in December from an eastern military base. It also tested its nuclear-capable Agni-I short-range ballistic missile in November. The Agni-I, named after the Hindu god of fire, can carry payloads of 1 tonne up to 700 km. The launch of another, longer range Agni II+ ballistic missile failed in November.