India, Pak conduct tit-for-tat missile tests

ODISHA/ ISLAMABAD: As news came in that India had successfully test-fired its indigenously developed surface-to-air 'Akash' missile at Odisha, with a strike range of 25 km and capable of carrying a warhead of 60 kg, Pakistan on Monday reported a ‘successful’ test launch of the intermediate range- Shaheen 1A (Hatf IV) ballistic missile, capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads. Pakistan has tested a wide range of indigenously built missiles, including nuclear-capable ones, ranging from the Hatf-IX tactical missile with a range of 60 kilometres to Hatf-IV, in recent months as part of what are described as “efforts to strengthen its nuclear arsenal to counter India’s conventional superiority.”

Press Trust of India reports that “the sophisticated Akash missile was test-fired from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur at about 3.18 pm,” on Monday, 17 November. It is capable of targeting aircraft up to 30 km away and is packed with a battery that can track and attack several targets simultaneously.

With its capability to neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles, defence experts compare 'Akash' to similar weapons of many other advanced countries. 'Akash' has been developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. While the Air Force version has already been inducted, the Army version is in the final stage of induction. 

Meanwhile, The Express Tribune reports that according to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the test-firing of the Shaheen 1A missile was aimed at re-validating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system. “Shaheen 1A missile is capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 900 kilometres,” the ISPR said.

The latest test came three days after the Pakistani military successfully test-fired another nuclear-capable missile, which has a range of 1,500 kilometres.

The Shaheen-IA missile, also known as Hatf-VI, was launched from an undisclosed location in the country, targeting somewhere in the Arabian Sea.

Naval chief Admiral Zakaullah congratulated the scientists and engineers for their “dedication, professionalism and commitment towards achieving Pakistan’s full spectrum credible minimum deterrence capability.”

The official statement said, “Shaheen-1A with its highly accurate and indigenously developed guidance system is amongst the most accurate missile systems”.

The naval chief reiterated Pakistan’s desire for peaceful co-existence in the region and expressed full confidence in the ability of Pakistan’s armed forces to secure the country against any aggression.

The successful test launch was also appreciated by the president and the prime minister who congratulated the participating troops, the scientists and engineers.

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