Asia Defense

Pakistan’s Navy Test Fires Indigenous Anti-Ship/Land-Attack Cruise Missile

The test launch from a Pakistan Navy fast attack craft reportedly took place in the Arabian Sea on April 23.

Pakistan’s Navy Test Fires Indigenous Anti-Ship/Land-Attack Cruise Missile
Credit: ISPR

The Pakistan Navy has successfully test fired an indigenously developed unidentified anti-ship/land-attack cruise missile from a fast attack craft in the North Arabian Sea on Tuesday, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media arm of the Pakistan Armed Forces, said in an April 23 statement.

“The missile accurately hit its target on land signifying the impressive capabilities of the indigenous missile system,” the statement said. “The successful live weapon firing has once again demonstrated the credible fire power of Pakistan Navy and the impeccable level of indigenization in high tech weaponry achieved by Pakistan’s defense industry.”

Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat, the vice chief of the Naval Staff, witnessed the live firing onboard a Pakistan Navy ship, along with other senior officers and officials.

While not specified by ISPR, the surface combatant used for the test launch appears to have been an Azmat-class fast attack craft, three of which are currently in service with the Navy. The fast attack craft is based on China’s Type 037II Houjian-class missile corvette. While the first two Azmat-class ships were built in China, the third fast attack craft was assembled in Pakistan. The last Azmat-class corvette reportedly has been fitted with indigenously built dual-triple-cell missile launchers.

According to Quwa Defence News & Analysis Group, Pakistan’s Ministry of Defense Production had planned to develop an indigenous missile system for the Azmat-class  by October 2018.

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ISPR did not reveal the missile type tested on the April 23. The missile fired in today’s test could either be the Harba anti-ship and land-attack cruise missile (LACM/ASCM), which was last test fired in January 2018, or a sea-launched version of the Babur 1B LACM/ASCM.  (A third possibility is a sea-launched variant of the Zarb land-based ASCM system.) The existence of the Harba LACM/ASCM was fired revealed in 2017. It is thought to be a long-range sea-skimming cruise missile with an estimated range of 450 to 700 kilometers. There is speculation that the missile is a derivative of the Babur missile series.

The Babur 1B was last test fired in April 2018. According to ISPR, the missile “incorporates advanced aerodynamics and avionics that can strike targets both at land and sea with high accuracy, at a range of 700 kilometers.”  The statement notes that the terrain-skimming cruise missile “is capable of carrying various types of warheads.” In April 2018, Pakistan also announced the second successful flight test of the Babur-3 nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM). Both the Babur 1B and Babur 3 SLCM are reportedly nuclear-capable.

The Babur missile series is an essential component to Pakistan’s deterrence strategy.