Pakistani military leaders said the Shaheen-III missile has a range of up to 1,700 miles, which could enable it to reach deep into the Middle East, including Israel.
After the missile was fired into the Arabian Sea on Monday, the head of the military unit that oversees Pakistan’s nuclear program congratulated scientists and engineers for “achieving yet another milestone of historic significance.”
The medium-range Shaheen-III is an updated version of the indigenously produced Shaheen-I and Shaheen-II, which had shorter ranges. “The test launch was aimed at validating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system at maximum range,” the military said in a statement.
Pakistani military leaders are trying to maintain a “credible deterrence” as arch-rival India rapidly invests in military hardware.
In recent years, India has moved toward the creation of a missile defense system and is upgrading its air force and submarine fleet. In 2012, India test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which it said has a range of more than 3,100 miles.
India’s growing defense budget is largely a result of its uneasy relationship with China. But Pakistan and India have fought three major wars since 1947. Analysts estimate that Pakistan and India possess about 100 nuclear warheads each, and nonproliferation experts say the Indian subcontinent remains a nuclear flash point.
Several Pakistani military analysts said the Shaheen-III has a range greater than that of any other Pakistani missile. The maximum range of the earlier versions of the Shaheen missile was about 1,500 miles, which meant it could not reach parts of India’s eastern frontier.
“Now, India doesn’t have its safe havens anymore,” said Shahid Latif, a retired commander of Pakistan’s air force. “It’s all a reaction to India, which has now gone even for tests of extra-regional missiles. . . . It sends a loud message: If you hurt us, we are going to hurt you back.”
Some analysts caution that the true range of the Shaheen-III could be less than what Pakistani military leaders claim. But Monday’s test could aggravate unease in parts of the Middle East, including Israel. Historically, there also has been some tension between Pakistan, which is overwhelmingly Sunni, and Shiite-dominated Iran.
Courtsey: Washington Post