Pakistan successfully tested what it described as the “indigenously developed” Ra’ad air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) on 2 February, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement.
The 4.85 m-long, nuclear-capable Ra’ad was launched from an undisclosed air platform and was the fifth successful test firing to be announced. All previous tests, the most recent of which was on 31 May 2012, were conducted using an upgraded Dassault Mirage III ROSE aircraft.
The 350 km-range missile enables Pakistan to achieve “strategic standoff capability” on land and at sea, the Pakistan Army said.
Lieutenant General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, director general of the Strategic Plans Division, described it as a major step towards strengthening Pakistan’s full spectrum credible minimum deterrence. This is aimed at achieving strategic stability in the region, he added.
The test took place two days after India tested a canister-based version of its nuclear-capable Agni 5 missile, which has a range of 5,000 km.
IHS Jane’s Air Launched Weapons describes the Ra’ad (also known as the Hatf 8 or Hatf VIII) as “part of Pakistan’s wide-reaching strategic missile development programme that includes short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles”.
Air Launched Weapons also notes that the Ra’ad bears a resemblance to several proposed South African stand-off weapon projects such as MUPSOW and Torgos, and that Pakistan and South Africa have previously worked together in advanced weapons development. “Kentron (now Denel) has already supplied its Raptor powered glide bomb to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the extension of that relationship to include more advanced weapons would seem to be a logical step,” it notes.
The first Ra’ad test launch was announced on 25 August 2007. It was conducted over the Rawalpindi test range. Pakistan television footage showed the missile under a Mirage IIIEA ROSE-1 during take-off and in flight. Missile release and engine start were shown, followed by in-flight filming of the missile. It is not known if this test represented the first flight of the weapon, or was simply a point in an ongoing test programme. A second launch was reported in May 2008, a third in April 2011, and the fourth in May 2012.