The media wing of the Pakistani military Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced on 18 February that it has test-launched a new variant of its Ra’ad II nuclear-capable, air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) with a range of 600 km. The new missile “significantly enhances” the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s “air-delivered strategic stand-off capability on land and at sea. The new missile variant, which was shown in a low-resolution video being launched from a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Mirage III fighter aircraft.
No further details were provided about the latest Ra’ad II variant, which has been fitted with what appears to be a more conventional tail fin configuration compared to the ‘twin tail’ configuration seen in previous variants. Pakistan Air Force referring to the weapon system as “a major step towards complementing Pakistan’s deterrence capability. Ra’ad II is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance and navigation systems ensuring engagement of targets with high precision.
Pakistan’s Ra’ad (also known as the Hatf VIII) series bears a resemblance to several South African stand-off missile projects, including the MUPSOW cruise missile and Torgos long-range guided weapon. Pakistan and South Africa have worked together on advanced weapons development in the past. The 4.85 meter-long Ra’ad-II had a stated range of 550-600 kilometers. It is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads. The Ra’ad II was first publicly revealed as a mock-up in 2017 during Pakistan’s annual military parade in Islamabad.
Ra’ad is developed by Pakistan’s Air Weapons Complex and NESCOM. The missile uses stealth technology, has a range of 600 km and is designed to carry conventional or nuclear warheads. As per media reports, the missile has features including low-altitude, terrain hugging missile with high maneuverability. The missile would probably be tasked for precision attacks on high value targets including command centres, radars, surface-to-air missile launchers, ballistic missile launchers and stationary warships.