Pakistan introduced a new version of Shaheen ballistic missile on April 25, 2012. According to the ISPR Press Release (No PR98/2012-ISPR): “Pakistan successfully conducted the launch of the intermediate Range Ballistic Missile Hatf IV, Shaheen-1A Weapon System.” The missile is an improved version of Shaheen-1 with improvements in range and technical parameters. It is capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads.” The Director General of Strategic Plan Division (SPD), Lieutenant General Khalid Ahmed Kidwai (R), stated that “the improved version of Shaheen-1A will further consolidate and strengthen Pakistan’s deterrence abilities.” Prior to the last week missile test, Pakistan had two versions of Shaheen missiles. Among them, Shaheen-I was already handed over to the strategic forces.
Name Fuel Alternate Names Range (km) Payload (kg) Test Firings Developed by Status
Hatf-4 Solid Shaheen-1 750 1000 April 1999 NDC In service
Hatf-6 Solid Shaheen-II 2400-2500 1000 March 2004 NDC ?
The Shaheen-1A attracted the attention of the strategic observers because its impact point was at sea. It means that it augmented Pakistan’s maritime military capability. India’s obsession to build its blue water Navy with the introduction of aircraft carriers and leased nuclear propelled submarines from Russian Federation undermines the coastal security of the Indian Ocean littoral states. Indeed, Shaheen-1A would be an effective weapon to deter the adversary naval aggression or blockade of Pakistani seaports.
The SPD did not share the actual range of Shaheen-IA, yet it mentioned that the missile is intermediate range and technically improved nuclear capable delivery vehicle. This deliberate concealment policy about the range does not hide the fact that its range is substantially greater than the older Shaheen-1. The term “intermediate”, itself is very much explanatory. At least, Shaheen-1A is neither short nor medium.
The recent missile tests of India and Pakistan accentuate the fact that both sides cling to their policies of strategic competition and the enduring primacy of military security. The investment in the military sectors will continue, with this arms race undermining the social and economic prosperity of both nations. Hence, it is imperative that New Delhi and Islamabad realize that arms race only intensifies their insecurity and taxes their resources without any bona fide dividends.