Pakistan today test fired its air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), the Hatf VIII (Ra’ad). This is the fourth successful test of the missile by the Pakistani Armed Forces. According to the Pakistani Armed Forces officials, the missile is capable of delivering both the nuclear and conventional high-explosive warheads. The maximum effective operational range is estimated at 220 miles.
This is the third successful test of a nuclear capable missile by the Pakistani Armed Forces within the last 30 days. Earlier, they had tested the Battlefield Range Ballistic Missile (BRBM), Nasr (Hatf-IX) this week and the Short Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM), the Hatf-III (Ghaznavi) on May 10th.
The Ra’ad is one of the four types of Land Attack Cruise Missiles currently operated by the Pakistani Armed Forces. Pakistan had inducted the Hatf VII (Babur), another land attack cruise missile on August 2005. They are also operating a number of the French developed AS-30L and the American AGM-65 Maverick missiles. The Ra’ad missile is equipped with stealth capabilities, which enables it to evade detection by the enemy radars.
Pakistani sources claim that the missile is fully indigenously developed without any foreign technical assistance. It was jointly developed by the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) and the Air Weapons Complex (AWC), after the successful launch of another Pakistani cruise missile, the Hatf VII.
According to defence experts, the missile is one of the most accurate cruise missiles ever developed by any Asian nation. Ra’ad, which can be used for precision strikes on enemy strategic facilities such as radars, SAM batteries, and warships, can carry a nuclear warhead of up to 300 kiloton. The missile was first tested on 25 August, 2007. Another successful test was carried out in the next year, and the third test was carried out on April last year. The tests were carried out from the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) Dassault Mirage III ROSE fighter aircrafts.