Shaheen III / Hatf-X ?
Pakistan test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile on Friday 09 March 2015, two days after the government confirmed it would resume high-level peace talks with arch-rival India. The military said it had fired a Shaheen III surface-to-surface ballistic missile which can carry nuclear and conventional warheads within a range of 2,750 kilometers. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement added that the test flight was aimed at validating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system. The impact point of the flight test was in the Arabian Sea, validating all the desired parameters.
The test was witnessed by senior officers from Strategic Plans Division, Strategic Forces, Scientists and Engineers of Strategic Organisations. Director General Strategic Plans Division, Lieutenant General Mazhar Jamil, congratulated the Scientists and Engineers on achieving a significant milestone in complementing the deterrence capability. He asserted that Pakistan desires peaceful co-existence in the region for which nuclear deterrence would further strengthen strategic stability in South Asia.
Lt Gen Mazhar Jamil appreciated the technical prowess, dedication and commitment of scientists who contributed whole heartedly to make this launch a success. He expressed his full confidence over the Strategic Command and Control System and the Strategic Forcesí operational preparedness to defend against any aggressive design. President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated the scientists and engineers, associated with the production of strategic arms for the military, on the successful missile test.
Shaheen-II missiles were test-fired in Pakistan in 2014. Shaheen-I is capable of carrying nuclear as well as conventional warheads and has a range of 900km while the Shaheen-II missile can also carry nuclear and conventional warheads up to a range of 1500 km.
It is possibiled that the Shaheen-3 was test fired on depressed trajectory. Pakistan could have simply increased the range of the Shaheen-II missiles from 2000kms to 2750kms by reducing the payload. While Pakistan maintains that the Shaheen-III was indigenously developed, some speculated that the missile could be a derivative of the Chinese DF-26. This seems improbable, since the DF-26 is a rather larger missile. In fact, the Shaheen III appears to be a Shaheen II first stage with a longer version of the Shaheen II second stage.
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