A Chinese state-owned defense firm may have provided the transporter used for Pakistan’s Shaheen-III medium-range ballistic missile.
IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, citing an Indian government source, reports that China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC), a state-owned defense export firm, made the 16 wheeler transporter erector launcher (TEL) for Pakistan’s Shaheen-III missile.
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Pakistan is believed to have taken delivery of the TELs at the end of February or in early March 2016. The source also said that Pakistan’s National Engineering and Scientific Commission has set up an assembly line at the Punjab-based National Development Complex to assemble TELs for Pakistani missiles.
Pakistan and China are close allies. While China has been accused of abetting Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs, it officially denies providing any technological assistance to Pakistan.
The Indian source that spoke to Jane’s notes that Pakistan and China began negotiation on 2012 for the CPMIEC-built TELs.
United States officials have previously cited (PDF) CPMIEC, along with other Chinese state-owned firms, as “serial proliferators” in the case of North Korea.
The Shaheen-III is one of Pakistan’s solid-fuel ballistic missiles, capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. The missile went into service early last year.
Of all of Pakistan’s ballistic missile systems, the Shaheen-III has the longest effective range, at around 2,750 kilometers.
The Shaheen-III’s development and design has been highly opaque, with little information publicly available about the missile’s capabilities. In a addition to being a mobile, solid-fueled platform, the Shaheen-III is thought to be capable of delivering multiple warheads.
CPIEMC’s Other Activities
China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC) was most visibly involved with a now-defunct deal to sell Turkey the HQ-9 surface-to-air missile system. The deal fell apart after Istanbul drew back following pressure from NATO.
Critically, China-provided TELs are thought to be the carriers for North Korea’s as-yet-untested KN-08 and KN-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
A UN Panel of Experts’ spring 2016 report points out that North Korea was also using three-axis trucks that “were nearly identical to a series of trucks manufactured by a Chinese company.”
The company is not specified in the Panel of Experts’ report and Annex 69 of the report, which contains evidence substantiating the Panel’s finding, is labeled “Strictly Confidential.”
These trucks were seen in North Korea’s October 2015 military parade.
The report notes that China said there was “agreement on the purposes of the exported truck”—North Korea said it would “use the trucks solely for forest area operations and timber transportation.” (Reuters also reported on the use of Chinese trucks in North Korea.)