Pakistan’s JF-17 fighters will integrate the already tested RAAD-II missile
ISLAMABAD, (BM) – On 18 February Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced the successful testing of a RAAD-II air launched nuclear capable cruise missile, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
The missile was launched by a Mirage III fighter, and would allow the aircraft to strike targets unto 600km away. This new capability “significantly enhances” the Air Force’s “air delivered strategic standoff capability on land and at sea” – according to the ISPR statement, which further noted that the RAAD-II “is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance and navigation systems ensuring engagement of targets with high precision.”
The new missile appears to be more compact and lighter than the original RAAD design, and is thought to be more precise and have superior electronic warfare countermeasures.
The RAAD-II was first unveiled in March 23rd 2017 during a major military parade, and its development comes as part of a broader effort by Pakistan to diversify its nuclear delivery capabilities.
Other recently tested nuclear delivery systems have included strategic platforms such as the Shaheen-II, the Babur-III submarine launched nuclear capable cruise missile and at the lowest level the Nasr nuclear rocket artillery system.
The Mirage III is the most widely fielded fighter in the Pakistani Air Force – and is widely considered obsolete with Pakistan being the only remaining operator of the class. The platform has been extensively modernised since its entry into service however, improving its capabilities from an early second generation fighter to one with respectable third generation capabilities.
The Mirage III is still far inferior in air to air to anything in the fleets of neighbouring India or Iran, and allocating the aircraft a nuclear delivery role through integration of new radar evading cruise missiles could allow them to remain relevant – while avoiding allocating more sophisticated but scarce F-16 and JF-17 fighters to such a role.
It is expected that the JF-17 will eventually integrate the RAAD-II missile to complement its existing standoff cruise missiles – possibly the JF-17B which with a twin seat configuration can accommodate a weapons systems officer making it better suited to a strike role.
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Editorial team / Military Watch