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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday successfully tested an improved version of the medium-range and subsonic Babur cruise missile to bolster the country’s deterrence capabilities.

“A successful test of an enhanced version of the indigenously developed Babur Cruise Missile was conducted today,” the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said while announcing the test held at an undisclosed location.

The tested missile — descri­bed in the ISPR statement as ‘Babur Weapon System Version-2’ — had enhanced targeting capabilities, said an expert. “It has more precision,” he said.

“The missile incorporates advanced aerodynamics and avionics that can strike targets both at land and sea with high accuracy,” the ISPR said.

The Babur missile was unveiled in 2005 and since then has undergone several upgrades. The 700km Babur cruise missile is a low-flying, terrain-hugging missile, which can hit targets both at land and sea with pinpoint accuracy. It also has stealth features.

Equipped with the Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) technologies, it can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads.

The missile is fired from a multi-tube launch vehicle and has a reported payload capacity of 300kg.

India was not notified about the missile test because the existing bilateral agreement on missile notification does not cover cruise missile tests and is limited to ballistic missiles.

Pakistan has tested a missile after a long pause. Pakistan has a lower testing frequency than its neighbour. According to an estimate, India carries out about 2.5 tests to each test conducted by Pakistan.

The test launch was witnessed by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, senior officers of the Strategic Plans Division, Strategic Forces, and scientists and engineers of the strategic organisations.

On the occasion, Gen Hayat said the successful test had served to strengthen the country’s deterrence capability.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2016