Pakistan has responded to India’s recent nuclear capable Agni-V missile test by testing one of their own. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of Pakistan’s military, announced the successful test launch of Pakistan’s first ever submarine based cruise missile on Tuesday.
The Babur-3, according to the ISPR, is intended to bolster Pakistan’s defenses in response to recent technological developments in neighboring nations – which is likely a thinly veiled reference to India’s recent cruise missile tests.
“Pakistan eyes this hallmark development as a step towards reinforcing the policy of credible minimum deterrence,” The ISPR said in an official statement. They went on to call the successful test “a manifestation of the strategy of measured response to nuclear strategies and postures being adopted in Pakistan’s neighborhood.”
Just in case you felt that wasn’t specific enough a threat to Pakistan’s local nuclear opponent, the missile’s name (Babur-3) comes from a sixteenth century Islamic warlord that invaded and conquered India. In Pakistan, as well as in many nations throughout the world, tact and tactical aren’t always synonymous.
The test can be seen on an official video released by the Pakistani government, wherein it is clear that the missile is launched from a submerged location. The ISPR goes on to claim that the Babur-3 was fired from a “mobile platform and hit its target with precise accuracy.”
The development of this missile, a variation on previously successful land and sea based iterations of the same design, grants Pakistan what military experts are calling a legitimate “second strike” capability, or the ability to respond to a nuclear attack with a powerful nuclear retaliatory strike, not unlike the Cold War concept of mutually assured destruction. It is believed to have been developed by reverse-engineering American missiles found almost completely intact in Pakistan in the 1990s, but the ISPR claims they have added state of the art technology to the dated air frame.
“The missile features terrain hugging and sea skimming flight capabilities to evade hostile radars and air defenses, in addition to certain stealth technologies,” according to the ISPR announcement.
Only weeks ago, India tested their Agni-V ballistic missile that is also capable of carrying a nuclear payload. Unlike Pakistan’s Babur, which has a range of less than three hundred miles, the Indian Agni-V is believed to have a potential range of more than three thousand miles. The wide disparity between platform capabilities prompted China’s state media to suggest that China would be willing to aid Pakistan in the development of long-range nuclear weapons, claiming that Pakistan deserves the same “nuclear privileges” as India.
India’s significant advantage in the nuclear arms race means they aren’t particularly concerned with Pakistan’s recent testing. “It is a threat, but something the Indian navy is confident it can deal with,” Bharat Karnad, a research professor at India’s Center for Policy Research, told CNN.
India will continue its missile testing throughout 2017, with three more test launches scheduled prior to deploying the missile to various platforms as a part of India’s national defense strategy.
Tensions between India and Pakistan are nearly always high, as the two nations have sparred repeatedly since both gaining their independence from Britain in 1947. Since then, large-scale fighting has broken out in the nineteen forties, sixties, seventies and nineties, as well as numerous small-scale skirmishes such as an attack on an Indian army base in Kashmir last September that resulted in the deaths of nineteen Indian soldiers. India has dramatically increased defense spending in recent years, in large part due to increased tensions between the Asian nation and China over contested waterways in the South China Sea. Many experts already believe an arms race has already begun in Asia, and Pakistan’s recent nuclear developments are simply yet another product of a rapidly budding Asian Cold War.
Image courtesy of The ISPR