Pakistan marked a significant milestone in its defense capabilities as it successfully conducted the flight test of the Ababeel Weapon System on Tuesday. This achievement, heralded by the military, is expected to bolster the nation’s “strategic stability” and enhance its deterrence capabilities. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued a statement clarifying the objectives of the test flight, emphasizing its role in re-validating various design elements, technical parameters, and the performance evaluation of the weapon system’s sub-systems. The Ababeel Weapon System, according to the ISPR, is instrumental in fortifying deterrence and improving strategic stability within the region, particularly through the operationalization of “Full Spectrum Deterrence” as part of the overarching framework of “Credible Minimum Deterrence.”
Notably, the President, Prime Minister, and services chiefs extended their congratulations to the members of the strategic forces for their pivotal role in achieving this milestone. The launch of the Ababeel Weapon System was observed by several high-ranking officials, including Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, senior officers from the Strategic Plans Division, and the Strategic Forces Command. The presence of scientists and engineers from strategic organizations underscored the collaborative nature of this achievement. This development follows Pakistan’s earlier successful test flight of the Fatah-1 Guided Multi-Launch Rocket System in 2021, further diversifying the country’s defense capabilities.
The Ababeel Missile is a Surface-to-surface Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) with Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRV). The missile is specifically designed to ensure the survivability of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles in light of the growing regional Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) environment, a response to India’s anti-ballistic missile systems. The National Interest has aptly referred to the Ababeel as “the Ultimate Nuclear Missile,” acknowledging its potential to counter Indian BMD systems and, theoretically, to conduct counterforce strikes against India’s nuclear arsenal. The missile itself boasts a length of 21.5 meters, a diameter of 1.7 meters, and a maximum range of 2,200 kilometers. It is capable of carrying a 1,500 kg warhead, which can consist of three standard 500 kg warheads, five 300 kg warheads, or eight warheads weighing 185 kg each.
Developed by the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), the Ababeel Weapon System is believed to be a liquid-fueled missile, though some sources suggest it is a development of the Shaheen-III airframe with solid-fuel motors, featuring an enlarged diameter payload fairing to accommodate the MIRV warhead. The first publicly announced test launch was conducted on 24 January 2017. As of June 2017 no missiles were thought to be operationally deployed. This innovation could substantially increase the missile’s warhead carrying capacity while slightly reducing its range. The successful test of the Ababeel Weapon System stands as a testament to Pakistan’s commitment to bolstering its national security and strategic capabilities, fostering regional stability through a policy of credible deterrence.