ISLAMABAD — Pakistan successfully test launched a land-based anti-ship missile on Thursday, but the did not reveal its identity, possibly indicating it is a new development of its Babur land-attack cruise missile.
The military’s media branch, ISPR, said the “land-based anti-ship missile” featured “advanced technology and avionics, which enable engagement of targets at sea with high accuracy.”
The trial, witnessed by Vice Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Khan Hasham Bin Saddique and other senior officers, was undertaken in the coastal region. A warning to shipping regarding missile tests was issued for March 16-17.
Siddique congratulated the technical team, saying the test would help improve Pakistan’s defenses and operational reach of the Navy by enabling the launch of long-range, anti-ship missiles from land.
No performance details or even the name of the missile were provided, however.
Though an image released by the government’s Press Information Department appeared to show a Babur missile, its resolution was insufficient to accurately determine the missile’s identity.
In April last year, a shore-based anti-ship missile dubbed Zarb was test fired. It was speculated by analysts to be the Chinese C-602/YJ-62.
However, a naval industry official told Defense News at Pakistan’s biennial defense exhibition IDEAS 2016 in November that Pakistan was working on indigenous anti-ship missiles. This followed an earlier revelation buried in a Ministry of Defence Production report of development of a shipboard anti-ship missile launcher.
In December, steel was cut for the first indigenous Azmat Block II missile boat, which in can be determined from the images released at the time will carry a larger anti-ship missile than the C-802A/CSS-N-8 Saccade that arms the Block I boats.
No confirmation of this missile’s identity has been forthcoming since then, but it sparked speculation that Pakistan’s indigenous anti-ship missile efforts were perhaps more advanced than realized.
The Babur offers the quickest route to an indigenous anti-ship missile, with a range exceeding the limitations of the Missile Technology Control Regime in the same vein as the United States' UGM/RGM-109B (TAS-M) Tomahawk.
It has already provided the basis of further developments. The updated Babur II was tested in December. The sub-launched Babur III, was successfully tested in January, enabling Pakistan to establish a second-strike capability.
Though the C-602 reportedly cruises at a height of 30 meters, test-area altitude for today’s test was restricted to 1,500 meters — more akin to the higher cruise altitude of the Babur.
A Navy spokesman was asked to comment on the missile’s identity, but there was no reply by press time.