Nasr is designated as a short-range ballistic missile system, which is the latest addition to the Haft series of missiles, locally produced in Pakistan.
Since its strong rise to nuclear weapons in 1998, Pakistan has developed a variety of strategic and tactical weapons to further strengthen its nuclear deterrent. A number of short and medium range missile systems have been launched to counter the superior capabilities of the Indian armed forces. Among these is the short-range rocket artillery system, the Nasr, also known as the Hatf IX, which deploys nuclear warheads to carry out low-yield tactical attacks. The purpose is specifically to target Indian troop concentrations and armoured divisions – and thereby deny the country its conventional advantage.
Nasr is designated as a short-range ballistic missile system, which is the latest addition to the Haft series of missiles, locally produced in Pakistan. Its existence was revealed after a test in 2011 and it appears to have entered service after further testing in 2013. It is believed by analysts that the system is deployed to deter and respond to India’s “Cold Start” doctrine. The Indian military maintains that the Nasr was developed to “add deterrence value… at shorter ranges… with high accuracy, shoot and scoot attributes” for “quick response.”
Most likely that this missile was developed with Chinese assistance. It is believed, that the Nasr is based on the Chinese WS-2 multiple launch rocket system. Developers refer it as “Multi-Tube Ballistic Missile. It can be considered as an adaptation of the Chinese artillery rocket system to fire missiles with nuclear-tipped warheads. The launcher vehicle is based on Chinese 8×8 heavy high mobility chassis. The whole system is highly mobile.
The Nasr tactical ballistic missile is intended to target enemy offensive forces. The missile has a range of 60 km. It carries a 0.5-5 kT nuclear warhead. Nuclear warheads are small enough to fit inside a thin missile, that is about 300 mm in diameter. It is likely that other highly destructive warheads are also available. The Nasr has in-flight maneuver capability. Also it is claimed that it was designed to overcome missile defense systems. It is claimed that this missile is accurate. However actual figures of the Circular Error Probable have not been disclosed.
The missiles are stored and carried in a factory-sealed containers. In this way the missile is constantly ready to fire. Once one or more missiles are launched, the launcher vehicle can briefly redeploy. Brief redeployment time allows to avoid counter-battery fire. This feature adds survivability to the system.
The launcher vehicle of the Nasr is based on the Chinese Wanshan WS2400 8×8 special wheeled chassis. Identical vehicle is also used on Chinese AR-1A 300 mm artillery rocket system, that is in service with Pakistan. The vehicle can reach a maximum speed of 60 km/h, a range of 650 km.
Each vehicle deploys four missiles and is capable of firing them in rapid succession at separate targets. Though it carries a nuclear warhead, the Nasr’s low payload allows it to be launched at extremely short ranges without risk to the firing crew. This allows for a highly unconventional form of tactical nuclear strike – a tactic potentially derived from the low payload nuclear field artillery briefly deployed to the European theatre in the early years of the Cold War by the USSR and United States.
The Nasr has been highlighted as a potential ideal counter to the India’s S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. Deployment of Nasr missile signals that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons in response to any attacks on its territory, conventional or otherwise, and retains the capability to escalate with tactical strikes without resorting to its strategic arsenal. The missile thus provides an effective tactical nuclear deterrent to any potential Indian efforts to exercise conventional superiority, complementing the Pakistani strategic deterrent comprised of larger warheads on missiles.