Stealth-capable cruise missile: Pakistan successfully test-fires Hatf-VII

Pakistan successfully test-fired the “indigenously-developed,” stealth-capable, cruise missile Hatf-VII (Babur), the military’s public relations wing said on Friday.

Capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads, Hatf-VII is a “low-flying, terrain-hugging missile with high maneuverability, pin-point accuracy and radar avoidance features,” said a press release from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The missile was first tested in 2005, with a range of 500 km, and then in 2007 with an enhanced range of 700 km.

The only surface-to-surface subsonic cruise missile in Pakistan’s missile arsenal, Hatf-VII compares with India’s Nirbhay and the American Tomahawk missile, albeit 300 km shy of their range.

For navigation, the missile incorporates the Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) technologies, the press release added.

While the Pakistani military does not share details on cost of its missiles, a comparable subsonic cruise missile, the US’ Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, costs about $1.54 million per unit, according to US Department of Defence’s 2012 budget request summary.

Missile launch vehicle

In addition to validating the design parameters of the weapon system, the special feature of Friday’s launch was the validation of a new multi-tube, missile launch vehicle (MLV), the press release said.

“The three-tube MLV enhances manifold the targeting and deployment options in the conventional and nuclear modes,” the statement said.

With its shoot-and-scoot capability, the MLV provides a major force multiplier effect for target employment and survivability, it added.

The test was witnessed by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wynne, Director-General Strategic Plans Division Lt-Gen (retd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai along with senior officers from the armed forces, scientists and engineers.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also congratulated the scientists and engineers on the successful launch.

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