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Nuclear-capable Hatf III test-fired

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan on Thursday test-fired Short Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM) Ghaznavi-I of Hatf III series just over two weeks after it conducted the successful launch of the upgraded Shaheen I-A, a Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) of Hatf IV series.

Reported to have been inducted in Pakistan’s defence missiles’ fleet in 2004, Ghaznavi-I covers a range of 290 kilometres and is capable of carrying nuclear warheads and conventional weaponry simultaneously.

The missile test was reportedly conducted in the military-defined strategic range of ‘Potohar Plateau’ somewhere near Islamabad at the conclusion of the annual field training exercise of Army Strategic Force Command (ASFC), according to an official statement. “The exercise was aimed at testing the operational readiness of a Strategic Missile Group,” it said. Sources in Strategic Plans Division (SPD) say the ballistic missile Ghaznavi-I, which in technical terms is also known as CSS-7/ DF-3, has a payload capacity of carrying nuclear warheads up to 500 kilogrammes and those of conventional warheads up to 800 kg. Reportedly, the missile weighs some 5,000 kg. Unlike Shaheen I-A, the upgraded version of MRBM Shaheen I of Hatf IV series, Ghaznavi-I is not equipped with advanced stealth technology features to avoid detections from Navigational Radar System (NRS). But like Shaheen I-A, Ghaznavi-I reportedly contains advanced refuelling features that save pre-launch costs and time.

Ghaznavi-I has undergone a series of prior successive tests in the previous years.

On 25th of last month, Pakistan had successfully test-fired MRBM Shaheen I-A that has a reported range of 1,000 km while Shaheen-I; its moderate version, covers 750 km. The officials termed Ghaznavi-I as a ‘counter defence shield’ against Indian ballistic missiles Dhanush and Prithvi II that have respective ranges up to 250 to 350 km and can carry nuclear and conventional warheads weighing between 500 kg to 800 kg.

Military said the field exercise of the ASFC was witnessed by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wynne, Director General Strategic Plans Division L-General (r) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, Commander Army Strategic Force Command Lt-General Tariq Nadeem Gilani, Commander Karachi Corps Lieutenant General Muhammad Ijaz Chaudhry, Chairman National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) Irfan Burney and other senior military officials and scientists.

According to the statement, the CJCSC commended the troops on displaying a high standard of proficiency in handling and operating the state of the art weapon system. He said the nation had developed a strong nuclear deterrence capability and expected that the officers and men entrusted with the task of deterring aggression would continue to train hard and maintain professional excellence.

He said the armed forces were fully capable of safeguarding Pakistan’s security against aggression.

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