Pakistan’s HATF-IX / NASR : Implications for Indo-Pak Deterrence

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HATF-IX / NASR Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Implications for Indo-Pak Deterrence

Authors: Rajaram Nagappa, Arun Vishwanathan and Aditi Malhotra

To read the complete report in pdf click here

NASR ImageOn April 19, 2011 Pakistan conducted the first test flight of Hatf-IX (NASR) missile. The Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) described the missile as a ‘Short Range Surface to Surface Ballistic Missile’. Till date there have been three tests of the missile system on April 19, 2011, May 29, 2012 and February 11, 2013.

Following the Pakistani tests and claims of NASR being a nuclear capable missile, there has been a lot of analysis pointing to the dangers it poses for Indo-Pak deterrence. However, despite the large amount of literature which has come out following the NASR test in April 2011, not much attention has been directed at carrying out a holistic assessment of the tactical nuclear weapons issue. It is this crucial gap that that this report seeks to address.

The NASR warhead section has been estimated to have a cylindrical section which is 361 mm in diameter and 940 mm long with a conical portion which is 660 mm long. Thus, the important question is whether (a) Pakistan has a miniaturized weapon warhead which will fit into this dimension, (b) whether it has been tested and (c) in the absence of tests, how reliable is the weapon system. Most importantly, in the absence of demonstrated reliability, how confident will Pakistan be in fielding it?

Pakistan’s gambit of using NASR to signal a lowering of its nuclear threshold to counter any conventional military operation by India is likely to pose challenges for robustness of nuclear deterrence between Pakistan and India. An important question to ponder over and one that holds some importance for nuclear stability in the Indian sub-continent is whether NASR is leading Pakistan into a ‘commitment trap.’ It would be wise to guard against a situation where Pakistan would be forced to follow through just because of its past assertions.

The study shows that a weapon system like NASR has more disadvantages than advantages from all considerations ranging from damage potential to impact on deterrence stability.

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7 Comments

  • A. Vinod Kumar

    A very impressive analysis indeed – the book sustains the reputation of NIAS, and is a perfect synergy of technical, conceptual and strategic assessments on the topic covered. Being the first and only such detailed and comprehensive assessment of the deterrence implications of NASR, it will remain the best publication on this topic for a long time.

  • Natalia

    Experiencing with new weapon systems, states always go for rational choice making based on cost-benefit analyses and risk calculations. The introduction of Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM) NASR or HATF IX is considered as a major development relating to Pakistan’s credible deterrence policy. Subsequent, successful tests from 2011 to 2013 of NASR add value to deterrence posture of Pakistan. It has been developed to deter India from pursuing its Cold Start Doctrine (CSD). This doctrine is focused on aggressive limited conventional war fighting against Pakistan involving surgical strikes inside Pakistani territory. While realizing the Indian intentions, NASR is actually an accurate and calculated response to Indian aggressiveness. However, CSD has been renamed as Proactive Defence Strategy to give a soft image but intentions are there to engage limited conventional war fighting with Pakistan. Nasr has this capability to address the growing conventional force asymmetry in the region. It facilitates the nuclear deterrence paradigm as it widens Pakistan’s response against external hostilities and made its adversary thinks before moving against Pakistan. The speculations regarding the Command and Control System of Pakistan in context of SRBMs has no grounds. Pakistan has designed its command and control system with concrete initiatives in order to avoid any inadvertent or unauthorized use. NASR gives a boost to deterrence stature of Pakistan particularly and regionally at large.

  • Sandy

    India has been on an alleyway to foremost military technology developments, offensive strategic and tactical ballistic and cruise missiles, missile defense system, conventional arm and offensive doctrines. India’s BMD technology development affects the balance of power in the region. Indian BMD systems pose challenges to Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence capability by corroding strategic equilibrium and unstable balance of power in India’s favor. The Indian navy is on a massive upsurge plan to build a blue water fleet. Its development plans include the acquisition of both indigenous and leased nuclear powered submarines and various other platforms capable of launching nuclear weapons. Adding to this the Indian offensive war fighting doctrines.

    India‘s increasing economy encourages massive investment in its military arsenals. As India is the world’s prevalent importer of major conventional weapons plans to spend over USD 100 billion in this sector in next 5-10 years. For year 2013-2014, there has been an increase 5.3% in the Indian Defense budget. Previously, an increase of more than 17% in the defense budget (year 2012-2013) had already been recorded with an allocating USD 40.44 Billion in this sector.

    Conversely, Pakistan‘s increasing economic frailty and war on terrorism limits the latter‘s options to endow in the military buildup. This prevalent economic equation perceptibly facilitates India to shift the balance of power in its favor. Pakistan has been deliberately watchful and analytically responding to the offensive doctrines. The countermeasures do have limitations because of Pakistan‘s economic situation. So Pakistan‘s has pursuit for these weapons, for its effective deterrence . so for that Pakistan has tested NASR missile on 19th April 2011.

  • skr786

    Nasr, with a range of 60 km, and in-flight maneuver capability can carry nuclear warheads of appropriate yield, with high accuracy which means that the capability has been ensured already, by the state. it is very impressive to have quick response system, shoot and scoot’ attributes . The missile has actually ensured deterrence against the emerging threats and to defeat all known Anti Tactical Missile Defence Systems.
    The successful test was witnessed and appreciated; technically any missile before testing is checked for all technical aspects.

  • Usman

    The Hatf IX, named Nasr , is a solid fuelled battlefield range ballistic missile (BRBM) system developed by Pakistan. Developed by Pakistan’s National Development Complex (NDC), the Hatf IX Nasr has a range of 60 km and is carried by the same Chinese-origin 8×8 high mobility transporter erector launcher (TEL) as the Pakistan Army’s AR-1A / A-100E 300mm Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). The TEL platform appears to carry four missiles which are erected before launch and it is believed that the missile range could be extended. It is believed that the system is deployed to deter and respond to India’s “Cold Start Doctrine”. Also the extent of missile’s accuracy cannot be ascertained since the circular-error-probable has not been publicized and the statement only identifies that the missile is “highly accurate.”

  • Tania Mujadid

    Successfully conducting the test of Hatf IX is a great achievement on part of Pakistani Government.Missile has been developed to add deterrence value to Pakistan missile development program at shorter range and to deter possible external aggressions.likely tests would definitely pave a way towards improvement of accuracy and also to validate the designs parameters.

  • Ahsan Ali

    This report is just an unjustified theory and biased argument to say “The study shows that a weapon system like NASR has more disadvantages than advantages from all considerations ranging from damage potential to impact on deterrence stability”. Pakistan has always developed technologically advanced weapons and missile system, making plutonium or Uranium based 300mm diameter NASR missile is a real deal. On the same note India declared that they are making Parhaar from last 3 years, which indicates to the fact that irrelevant to Pakistan test, India would have tested its missile otherwise. Pakistan is playing sensibly by maintaining ambiguity about its nuclear weapons employment respective to India’s nuclear and military doctrines, keeping India in confusion.

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