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Pakistan tests latest defensive missile

  |   April 22, 2011 at 7:14 AM
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, April 22 (UPI) -- Pakistan successfully test-fired a new short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the Hatf-9, at an undisclosed location, the Defense Ministry said.

The firing of the missile with a range of just less than 40 miles was at sea, the Defense Ministry said in the written statement.

Hatf-9 is a multi-tube ballistic missile system capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and intended to deter emerging threats and increase Pakistan's short-range strategic weapons development program. It is a low-yield battlefield deterrent capable of inflicting damage on mechanized forces such as armed brigades and divisions, the statement said.

It comes after a test in March of a Hatf-2 surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 110 miles. The Ministry of Defense released a video -- less than 1 minute in length -- of the test firing. It showed the missile leaving the launch ship and hitting a target ship amidships, followed by billowing smoke.

In early February, Pakistan successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable Hatf-7, or Babur, cruise missile as "part of a process of validating the system," a government statement said at the time. "Babur can carry strategic and conventional warheads," military spokesman Maj. Gen. Arthar Abbas said.

Also, it has a 10-foot circular error point accuracy, tight enough for use in surgical strikes.

The missile -- named after the 16th-century Muslim ruler Hair ID-din Muhammad Ba bur, founder of the Mughal Empire -- reportedly flew approximately 370 miles.

Its range is reported to be 470 miles, which, analysts have said, would allow for the missile to be launched deep inside Pakistani territory and reach major cities in neighboring India.

The range is politically significant because the missile was developed with an eye to defending Pakistan against India's indigenously developed BrahMos cruise missiles.

The latest test firing drew reaction from Indian-based military analysts and government officials.

"Pakistan already has the long and medium-range Shaheen and Ghauri series of missiles, acquired with help of China and North Korea, to act as the delivery mechanism for strategic nuclear weapons,'' a senior Indian official is quoted in the Indian media.

"So, with this new missile, Islamabad seems to be looking at tactical nuclear deterrence against advancing enemy formations. But it is being foolhardy if it thinks nuclear weapons are war-fighting weapons,'' he said.

India's main cruise missile, the PJ-10 BrahMos, was first tested in 2001.

The BrahMos is jointly developed by Russia's Mashinostroyenia and India's BrahMos Corp. and has a ramjet cruise engine based on Russia's supersonic anti-ship Yakhont missile. The BrahMos's maximum speed is 2,100 mph -- three times that of the Tomahawk.

BrahMos Aerospace said it received $4 billion of orders from the Indian military. The missile, with a range of around 180 miles, will be delivered to the army and navy over the next five years, with orders beyond that up to 2015 worth around $10 billion, a company statement said.

Air and underwater variants are under development.

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