Pakistan Reader# 189, 30 August 2021
On August 24, DG Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) tweeted the successful test flight of Fatah-1. According to it, the missile was tested on a guided multi-launch rocket system platform. It was claimed that the missile can engage the target in deep enemy territory and capable of carrying conventional warheads.
Fatah-1: A short introduction
As per the Twitter handle of DG ISPR, the first test of the missile was conducted on January 7 this year, the missile has the range of 140 km. The missile is believed to have been developed in collaboration with Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) and the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) Pakistan. There has been no disclosure of the kind of fuel system Fatah works on so it is a guessing game so far. However, the Pakistan army employs two rocket launcher platforms, A100, a 300 mm, 10 tube launch rocket system manufactured by China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC), and BM-21, a Soviet-era made multi barrel rocket system. A100 boasts a range of 50-200 km so it's likely that Fatah was tested on a tactical missile specialized platform of A100.
Testing Fatah: What is the significance?
The railway minister of Pakistan, Sheikh Rashid known for his amenity on India-Pakistan issues claimed to have said that "Pakistan has small 125–250-gram atom bombs (tactical nuclear weapons) which may hit (and destroy) a targeted area in India,".
The recent tests seem to confirm the hypothesis partially, as Pakistan slowly developing precision-guided short-range missiles like Fatah. The warhead may not have been nuclear-tipped but the missile trajectory and indigenous technology hints to the gradual development of battlefield range missiles which could carry low yield capacity atomi (atom) bombs.
Pakistan’s recent missile tests
The year of 2021 started with the flight test of Shaheen-III, a surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 2750 km, though the public release did not mention whether the missile was capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Then there was the training launch of Ghaznavi (Hatf III), a solid fueled surface to surface nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of 290 km on January 23. On February 11, there was another demonstration of successful test firing of the Babur cruise missile IA, capable of hitting targets both at land and sea with high precision up to a range of 450 km. The missile has an extended range of 700 km, and can be launched in submarine as well.
In March 2021, the army conducted a successful test launch of the Shaheen 1-A medium-range ballistic missile. "The missile spanned a range of 900 kilometers and the test flight was aimed at the re-validating of various design and technical parameters of the weapon system including an advanced navigation system," said the military's media wing at the time. The recent tests confirmation of Fatah missile in August, validates the gradually developing missile technology program of Pakistan, and one can expect future tests which would advance the missile hardware in terms of the cruise capability and guidance.
“Is Pak Railway minister's boast about nuclear bombs just another gaffe?”, The Week, 02 October 2019
“Pakistan today conducted a successful test flight of indigenously developed Fatah-1 (Guided Multi Launch Rocket System), capable of delivering a conventional Warhead upto a range of 140 km.”, ISPR Public Release, 07 01 January 2021
Yusuf Cetiner, “Pakistan Tests Domestically Developed Guided Multi-Rocket Launcher System Fatah-1”, Overt Defence, 25 August 2021
Babur (Hatf 7)," CSIS Missile Defence Project, 4 August 2021
Naveed Siddiqui, "Pakistan successfully test-fires Shaheen 1-A ballistic missile", Dawn, 26 March 2021.