Pakistan national defense establishment celebrated yesterday the successful flight test of a new Air Launched Cruise Missile designated Raad/Hatf-VIII. The Raad that was a launched from a Pakistan Air Force Mirage III delivers precision strikes capabilities at ranges of 215 miles (350 km) with an estimated 9 ft (3 m) target accuracy probability (Circular Error Probability -CEP) carrying both conventional or nuclear warhead. This weapon complements stand-off missile launch capability within the Pakistani Air Force arsenal on the Mirage III/V platform aircraft and also presumably on the newer JF-17 and even Block 52 F-16s fighters.
Video footage of the launch depicts a PAF Mirage Iii releasing the 15 ft (5 m) long weapon slung underneath its fuselage. The indigenous weapon subsequently to clearing off the aircraft fuselage can be seen unfolding its wings while initiating a transition to cruise. The missile’s square-shaped cross section translates into stealth capability while a ventral air inlets at the rear of fuselage betrays the presence of a turbofan engine. The missile employs twin vertical tails terminating each horizontal stabilizer.
Advanced precision navigation and terminal Missile guidance capability is likely to be provided by the same combination of Global Positioning System / Inertial Navigation System -GINS- along with some implementation of Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching & Area Correlation (DSMAC) system as already observed on the Hatf-VII ‘Babur’ ground-launched cruise missile test-fired in February. The Pakistani indigenous TERCOM/DSMAC (see our Tomahawk entry) system which claims accuracy of 9 ft (3 m) (Circular Error Point -CEP) reportedly evolves from reverse-engineering efforts conducted by Pakistan’s National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) on RGM/UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles. Tomahawk missiles fired by the US Navy during the August1998 strikes against Afghanistan were alleged to have been recovered intact after suffering malfunctions while overflying Pakistan territory.
The Raad enhances Pakistan Air Force ability to conduct precision all-weather strikes of strategic value on maritime and ground key command and control targets as well as ensuring the delivery of nuclear armed payloads.