Pakistan has conducted a training launch of its Hatf-V/Ghauri I medium-range ballistic missile. According to an announcement from your military’s ISPR media branch, the training launch was “aimed at testing the operational and technical readiness of Army Strategic Forces Command.”
An accompanying compilation video of Monday’s test was the reason it showed the re-entry vehicle striking the target area, which is an element not usually shown in test results.
Ghauri I is often a liquid-fueled missile using a selection of 1,300 kilometers, and despite being referred to as able to carry nuclear or conventional warheads, analysts agree that the system, that includes a mixed reliability record, has essentially been relegated to a dog training role.
Author, analyst and former Australian defense Islamabad, Brian Cloughley, was attached to MGR-1 Honest John Regiment when he served using the British Army in Germany from 1967-1969. The MGR-1 was a nuclear capable rocket often used by NATO forces. He says such tests are like the one conducted on Monday have to be regularly conducted.
“It’s good training, even though it is a first-generation system, the missiles are always there in the event of an emergency. One of the best elements of training is exercising the command and controls in real time. That is always most valuable,” he was quoted saying.
Using the stock of cheaper, less advanced Ghauri missiles for such test purposes leaves the more capable Shaheen series of solid-fuel missiles to be utilized operationally.
Unlike the Ghauri, the Shaheen group of missiles don’t require a large logistics train for carrying fuel, or potentially up to 2 hours to arrange the missile for launch, which enable it to instead be launched in a couple of minutes.
Even if used operationally, the Ghauri may have some limited operational value, according to Mansoor Ahmed, an early research fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre and an associate with all the Project on Managing the Atom at Belfer from 2018 2019.
“They are cheaper and can be used surrounding attacks to overwhelm ballistic missile defense systems,” said Ahmed, who specializes in Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent and delivery systems.
In this context, however, he highlighted Pakistan’s latest missile development program, the “MIRV-capable Ababeel” to combat BMD systems, that is more credible compared to the mass using Ghauri missiles.
Regardless of the ISPR news release claiming “the launch consolidates Pakistan’s nuclear capability, that is targeted at peace and stability through a credible deterrence regime,” Ahmed believes Pakistan’s missile program needs to shift gears.
“Pakistan needs to be working on supersonic and hypersonic cruise missile systems” on account of Indian missile developments, he said. “The growing imbalance will cause deterrence failure.”