Hatf-8 Ra’ad ALCM
" Ra’ad ", meaning ’thunder’, is the title of the 13th sura (chapter) in the Quran. It is not to be confused with the similarly named military equipment developed by Iran, ranging from air defense systems through cruise missiles, to anti-tank missiles. The Ra’ad ALCM has a range of 350km, enabling the country to achieve air-delivered strategic standoff capability on land and at sea, with highly advanced guidance and navigation system, which ensures strong accuracy.
Pakistan’s first cruise missile, Babur, aka Hatf-VII, was first test-launched in 2005. At that time, officials stated the system development program will include a modified missile designed for launch from airborne platforms. A similar design concept was used in the MBDA Scalp EG/Storm Shadow (Black Shaheen)/Apache, and the Taurus KEPD 350. The most noticeable similarity lies in the rectangular cross section which differs greatly from the Haft 7 cylindrical design.
In 1993 South Africa's Kentron [now Dennel Dynamics] started development of an air launched cruise missile. By 1997 the design phase was completed, and the first prototypes were built for testing. In 1999 Kentron fell onto hard times due to a lack of customers. In that year, the company presented their newly built "Torgos" cruise missile at a defense technology show. South Africa guided weapons company Kentron unveiled its 300km (180mi) range Torgos cruise missile for the first time at Dubai 2000 in November 1999. The new missile is a development of the existing family of precision guided weapons from Kentron, a division of the Denel Group.
The Hatf-8 is a designation which has apparently not been previously used by Pakistan, and initially ther was some uncertainty as to whether it was genuinely new missile or a variation of the Hatf-7. Evidently it is a shorter, lighter counterpart to the Hatf-7, but not a derivative. It is also minus the solid rocket booster, which woud not be needed for a launch from a high-speed, high altitude combat aircraft.
Hatf-8 Ra’ad Air-Launched Crusie Missile [ALCM] is essentially a flying bomb, generally designed to carry a large conventional or nuclear warhead many hundreds of miles with high accuracy. Modern cruise missiles can travel at supersonic or high subsonic speed.
The Inter-Services Public Relations said Ra’ad, with a range of 350km, “enables Pakistan to achieve air delivered strategic standoff capability on land and at sea.” The missile is approximately five meters long and could weigh up to 1,000kg.
Ra'ad was tested for the first time on 25 August 2007. An official press-release by the military at the time of the test declared that the missile gave Pakistan Air Force a "strategic standoff capability on land and at sea," indicating that Ra'ad may be launched at sea-based targets such as ships, as well as land-based targets.
A third successful test of Ra’ad (ALCM) was carried out on 29 April 2011, this time fired from a Dassault Mirage fighter of Pakistan Air force. In late May-early June 2012, Pakistan conducted its fourth test of the Ra’ad air-launched cruise missile (ALCM). Pakistan conducted a successful Flight Test of the indigenously developed Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) "Ra'ad" 02 February 2015.
Pakistan conducted a successful flight test of the indigenously developed Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) – Ra’ad – said the military’s media wing in a statement 19 January 2016. The flight test of the cruise missile, which is also known as Hatf VIII, was the seventh since it was first tested in 2007.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated the scientists and engineers for their outstanding achievement on the successful flight test. Terming it a major step towards complementing Pakistan’s deterrence capability, Director General Strategic Plan Division Lieutenant General Mazhar Jamil congratulated the team behind Ra’ad on achieving yet another milestone of historic significance, the statement added. “Achievement of this milestone will surely enhance strategic stability and contribute to peace in the region,” he said. Lt Gen Jamil expressed complete confidence over the training standards and operational preparedness of the strategic forces.
On 18 February 2020, Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced that a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Mirage III test-fired the ‘Ra’ad-II’ air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) on February 16. According to the ISPR, the Ra’ad-II offers a range of 600 km, “which significantly enhances” Pakistan’s “air delivered strategic standoff capability on land and at sea.” In addition, the Ra’ad-II “is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance and navigation systems ensuring engagement of targets with high precision.”
Pakistan conducted successful flight test of Air Launched Cruise Missile “Ra’ad-II”. Ra’ad-II, with a range of 600 Km, which significantly enhances air delivered strategic standoff capability on land and at sea. The weapon system is equipped with state of the art guidance and navigation systems ensuring engagement of targets with high precision.
The successful flight test was witnessed by Lieutenant General Nadeem Zaki Manj, Director General Strategic Plans Division, Dr. Nabeel Hayat Malik, Chairman NESCOM, senior officers from Strategic Plans Division, Strategic Forces and Strategic Organizations. Director General Strategic Plans Division appreciated the technical prowess, dedication and commitment of scientists and engineers who contributed whole-heartedly to develop the weapon system and making this launch a success. He also termed it “a major step towards complementing Pakistan’s deterrence capability”. The President, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Services Chiefs have congratulated the Scientists and Engineers on the successful conduct of missile test.
Pakistan revealed the existence of the Ra’ad-II on 23 March 2017 during the national military parade of that year. At the time, the stated range of the Ra’ad-II was 550 km, and the design of the missile was identical to that of the original Ra’ad. However, the newly released footage of the Ra’ad-II show a completely different missile, notably through a new ‘X’ type tail in place of the preceding variant’s relatively large horizontal stabilizers. In addition, the sharplyt pointed nose of the missile seen in the parade has been replaced by the hemispherical nose seen on missiles such as the American Tomahawk, These changes suggest improvements in Pakistan’s competency with flight control technologies.
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