|Type||Medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM)|
|Place of origin||Pakistan|
|In service||Air Force Strategic Command|
(Testing phase only; not operational yet.)
|Designer||NESCOM and SUPARCO|
|Manufacturer||Nescom and Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission|
|Variants||Shaheen-I and Shaheen-II|
|Effective firing range||2750 km|
|Engine||Multi-stage Solid-fuel rocket|
|2750 km (1,708 miles)|
|Transporter erector launcher (TEL)|
|Transport||spaceport or TEL|
The Shaheen-III (Urdu: شاہین–ااا; lit. White Falcon-III) is a land-based surface-to-surface medium range ballistic missile, which was test fired for the first time by military service on 9 March 2015.
Development began in secrecy in the early 2000s in response to India's Agni-III, Shaheen was successfully tested on 9 March 2015 with 2750 km (1700 mi) range, which could enable it to reach all corners of India and reach deep into the Middle East parts of North Africa. This missile, according to a former Director General of Pakistan's Strategic Plans Division, is designed to reach Indian islands so that India cannot use them as “strategic bases” to establish a “second strike capability.”
The Shaheen program is composed of the solid-fuel system in a contrast to Ghauri program that is primarily based on liquid-fuel system. With the successful launch of the Shaheen', it surpasses the range of Shaheen-II— hence it is the longest-range missile to be launched by the military.
The range of the Shaheen-3 is sufficient to target all of mainland India from launch positions in most of Pakistan to the south of Islamabad. But apparently, the missile was developed to do more than that. According to Gen. Kidwai, the range of 2750 km was determined by a need to be able to target the Nicobar and Andaman Islands in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean that are “developed as strategic bases” where “India might think of putting its weapons”. But for a 2750-km range Shaheen-3 to reach the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, it would need to be launched from positions in the very Eastern parts of Pakistan, close to the Indian border. If deployed in the Western parts of the Balochistan province, the range of the Shaheen-3 would for the first time bring Israel within range of Pakistani nuclear missiles.
In 2000, the Space Research Commission concluded at least two design studies for its space launch vehicle. Initially, there were two earlier designs were shown in IDEAS held in 2002 and its design was centered on developing a space booster based on the design technologies of the Shaheen-I. Since then, Shaheen owes its existence largely to the joint efforts led by NDC of NeScom and Space Research Commission.
The Shaheen-III was shrouded in top secrecy and very little information was available to the public, mostly provided in 2002 IDEAS. Majority of the efforts and funding was being made available to Ghauri-III to seek strike in Eastern region of India. In May 2000, the Ghauri-III was cancelled due to its less advance and lack of technological gain. Despite strong advocacy by Abdul Qadeer Khan for the Ghauri-III program made to be feasible, the program was terminated by then-President Pervez Musharraf who made the funding available for Shaheen-III program which was to be led under Samar Mubarakmand. The Air Force, however, pressed for Shaheen-III to make it feasible as liquids were being developed that would allow the missiles to be left in a ready-to-shoot form for extended periods.
The Shaheen-III was initially purposed as the space booster for the space program to make it possible for installing the satellite payload applications. Despite its efforts, the existence of Shaheen-III continued to be speculated in news media as Pakistan Ministry of Defence and the Joint Staff HQ nor confirms or deny the existence of the program.
In a press conference held in Lahore in 2009, Samar Mubarakmand stated that: "Pakistan would launch its own satellite in April 2011." Although no confirmation or denial of Shaheen program's existence was given by Dr. Mubarakmand, the rumors and speculations yet to be continued for the existence of the program.
After years of speculations, the Shaheen-III was eventually revealed and tested on 9 March 2015 with a 2750 km (1700-mile) range.
Military officials from JS HQ, SPD scientists and engineers, oversaw the launch of the system and witnessed the impact point in the Arabian Sea. Reports summed up by NTI, there had been series of testings taken place of the rocket engine nozzles before the eventual tests took place in 2015.
Several Pakistani nuclear and military strategists reportedly quoted that the "Shaheen-III has a range greater than that of any other missile system in-service. Earlier testings of Shaheen-III had the maximum range of about 2,500km, which meant it can reach all parts of India, even the eastern frontier.
Air Marshal Shahid Latif, a retired senior commander in the Pakistan Air Force, noted the strategic significance of missile: "Now, India doesn’t have its safe havens anymore. It's all a reaction to India, which has now gone even for tests of extra-regional missiles. It sends a [very] loud message: If you hurt us, we are going to hurt you back.!"
Mansoor Ahmad, a professor of Strategic studies at the Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University, stated that: "Pakistan's military, however, is not interested in a "tit-for-tat" arms race with India." and speculated that developmental work may be under progress to make missile capable of delivering multiple warheads which would make them harder to defend against.
In a views of political scientist, dr. Farrukh Saleem, the Shaheen-III seems to be a reaction to Indian-generated threats. Dr. Saleem, on the other hand, stressed that: "Pakistan does not seem to be aiming at competing with India but Pakistan's aims seem to revolve around the creation of a credible deterrence, and a credible deterrence is bound to strengthen strategic stability."
Dr. Farrukh Saleem's views were also echoed by Mansoor Ahmad who maintained that: "Pakistan hopes to improve "existing capabilities," including new delivery systems for evading an Indian missile defense shield.
- Pakistan and its Nuclear Deterrent Program
- Medium-range ballistic missile
- Ababeel, a development of the Shaheen-III with an enlarged payload fairing containing a MIRV bus.
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