Pakistan Navy Enhances Land Attack Capabilities in Arabian Sea

PKONWEB Report – The Pakistan Navy last month conducted another test-firing of ship-borne variant of an indigenously developed cruise missile.

The weapon was fired from its latest Azmat-class patrol craft, PNS Himmat (1027), in the North Arabian Sea, the military’s official media communications group known as the inter-services public relations (ISPR) office revealed on 23 April.

In January 2018, Himmat conducted a similar test-firing of the  weapon. On both occasions, the tested cruise missile has anti-ship and land-attack capabilities- the weapon has been developed in-country.

The test announced in April was described as one that has accurately hit its target on land.

Images of the launch released by the ISPR office suggest a weapon length of between 6m and 7m, when taken in relation to Himmat ‘s overall beam, reported Janes 360.

CPEC has an embedded strategic undertone as well. It is an answer to the United States’ Asia pivot and its growing support for New Delhi. The Indian Ocean will be a crucial battleground for a plausible contest between opposing strategic partnerships, with the US and India on one side and China and Pakistan on the other. Sitting astride the all-important Strait of Hormuz, the port of Gwadar underpins CPEC. All four navies – the United States Navy (USN), Indian Navy (IN), Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and Pakistan Navy (PN) – will have vital roles to play in the unraveling maritime security environment in the region.

Based on its visible markings, the report says, it is probable that the  missile is the ‘Harbah’, which is shipborne variant of Pakistan’s indiginously developed Hatf 7 (Babur) short-range cruise missile.

The weapon has been tested amid heightened tensions with India over the long-standing Kashmir dispute and the country’s mega initiative with China to build a north-south road-and-rail passageway to the Arabian Sea shoreline in Balochistan.

Called the Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC), the mega bilateral initiative considered a game changer for Pakistan’s socio-economy, has put the country to brace for geostrategic tectonic shift in the region.

The cash-strapped and economically hit (by terror) country’s civil-military has vowed to build the CPEC at ‘all cost’- much to the chagrin of many.

The country’s navy stands at the frontline on the Arabian Sea, for maritime security of the CPEC- gateway to the Middle East.

Pakistan is known to be pursuing air-, ship-, and submarine-launched variants of the Babur cruise missile to complement its line-up of  longer-ranged ballistic missiles.

During the same month, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing called on Pakistan Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi in Islamabad.

Both dignitaries discussed defense and maritime cooperation between Pakistan and China (‘iron brothers’) and matters pertaining to maritime security of the CPEC.