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07 January 2011


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Charles I


The Wiki article chart found in the delivery systems section lists the Shaheen-II as deployed with a a range of 2500 km.

Notwithstanding your statement that "2000km is the longest range I've read claimed for a successful test launch of any of their missiles", this does not establish a 2000 km range limit.

missilethreat.com/ reports that;

'The first flight test occurred in March 2004. Subsequent flight tests occured in March 2005, April 2006, February 2007, and two final tests in April 2008. Limited production of 5 to 10 missiles may have begun in 2005 with production numbers reaching 25 to 30 by 2008. The second flight test in 2008 was performed by an army crew from the Strategic Force Command, so the missile is presumably in service.(1)"

References are made to decreasing range/increasing CEP with increased payloads, but I wouldn't count on the thing to be limited to 2500 km on that basis.

I can't find any reference so far to actual test flight distances, not surprising.


The Pakistani Air Force has engaged the Israelis successfully:

"RJAF and PAF were flying under a joint command. Flt. Lt. Saiful Azam became the only pilot from the Arab side to have shot down 3 IDF/AF aircraft within 72 hours and also the only pilot to have shot down 3 different aircraft types of the IDF/AF. He was, subsequently, decorated by Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. According to the Pakistani military, PAF pilots performed excellently and downed about 10 Israeli planes including Mirages, Mysteres, Vautours without losing a single pilot or single aircraft of their own.[17]"

"Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi became the first Pakistani pilot, during the Yom Kippur War, to shoot down an Israeli Mirage in air combat.He was honored by the Syrian government.[37] Other aerial encounters involved Israeli F-4 Phantoms; Pakistan Air Force did not lose a single pilot or aircraft during this war."


Lars Moller-Rasmussen

The equation may have more than just two unknown quantities, i.e. Israel and Pakistan.

In the 1980'es, the Wall Street Journal carried an editorial saying Israel was working with India on a raid into Pakistan to destroy its budding nuclear capability. On a reporting trip to India in 1994, I interviewed an Indian Air Commodore who told me that for India to destroy Pakistan's nuclear centre at Kahuta would be "a piece of cake". This was before both countries tested their nuclear weapons.

Since India never attacked Pakistan to deprive it of a nuclear capability, even before any of the two countries went officially nuclear, one may speculate that the reason is that India feared Pakistani retaliation against India's own nuclear programme.
Speculating further, one may guess that this is because such Pakistani retaliation might weaken India relative to China, the fourth unknown quantity in the equation.
Lars Moller-Rasmussen


Firstly, thank you to Robt Willman for the link to Brian Cloughey and the Pakistan Security Research Unit.


Research Brief 61 suggests that Pakistan has some 70 - 200 nuclear weapons.

Research Brief 53 suggests that Pakistan's army is chiefly focussed on the threat of India and will remain so, given sabre rattling by India to the effect that another terrorist attack mounted from Pakistani soil will provoke immediate military retaliation - which is what operation "cold start" and the integrated Indian battle groups are all about.

I therefore cannot imagine why anyone in the Pakistani army would want to start a quarrel with Israel, no matter who was in charge. India remains the main threat.

Then of course there is the question of "instability" allowing the Taliban access to functioning nuclear weapons and weapons systems......

My limited understanding of these matters is that Second and later generations of nuclear weapons contain components with a limited "shelf life". Furthermore, their assembly, arming, let alone targeting and launching of ballistic missiles is a complex process, involving many people.

I also understand that the American Government has provided unspecified assistance to Pakistan in the way of weapon security technology.

I would therefore like to think that the possibility of a successful detonation of a Pakistani sourced nuclear device on Israeli soil is remote.

Of course a first generation U235 device might be a possibility, but it would have to be delivered "manually", and I'm assuming that Pakistan has been smart enough not to have any to hand.

As for mating some device to a foreign fighter aircraft, just forget it.

Patrick Lang


You have strayed from answering my question which had to do with CAPABILITIES. If as FB Ali says it would be prudent to think that present CAPABILITY with regard to the Shaheen II is 2500 to 3500 km. that would range Israel from western Baluchistan.

If that is so, then why is Israel so concerned with a possible future Iranian CAPABILITY on the model of Cheney's 1% rather than the much closer threat presented by Pakistan's CAPABILITY? This is not sound analysis unless there is something that we do not know about this situation.

They rely on Pakistan's present INTENTION to focus on deterrence of India? Government's change. A Pakistan government run by people who are not so focused is possible. Re-targetting would not be difficult. The missiles are mounted on TELs.

The US, India or Israel would or could eliminate Pakistan's capability before it could be used?

I do not believe that. pl

Allen Thomson

FB Ali said,

> Regarding Pakistan’s long-range missile capability, it would be safe to assume that it is currently between 2500 and 3500 km.

I agree that would be the prudent assumption. Something like 350 - 500 kg to 2500 - 3500 km range, which would be adequate for a plausible nuclear payload.


William R. Cumming

PL! My understanding is all Pakistani long range rockets are liquid fueled not solid propellant! Solid propellant missiles that are ballistic missiles can have range added relatively easily IMO! Propellant types and motors and guidance still rule the missile world. I also believe Israli subs deployed outside the MED and both Iran and Pakistan know this and are aware of their capability--nuclear capability!



It appears the reason the Israelis are so 'concerned' about Iranian nuclear is that the Iranians are on the upswing, while the Israelis are on the 'downswing' of nuclear material production thanks to their screw-ups at Dimona. Israel is in 'decay' mode while Iran is in 'life' mode, and at some future point Iran can surpass Israel material production wise.

Patrick Lang


You are mistaken. The Shaheen 2 is a solid fuel, 2 stage IRBM mounted on a tank chassis TEL It is reputed to have a miniaturized nuclear warhead and may be MIRVed thanks to the Chinese. the Pakistanis have at least 20 of these. The last REPORTED range capability was 2500 km. I measure the distance on Google Earth between the Israel coast and the westernmost road point in Pakistan to be 2550 km. pl


"My limited understanding of these matters is that Second and later generations of nuclear weapons contain components with a limited "shelf life".

Which components are these? U-235 has 1/2 life of 3.4 billion year. Pu-239 is 24,000. It sure won't decay fast enough to have a limited 'shelf life'.


Perhaps a post on today's shooting of a US Congresswoman in Arizona? Pakistan isn't the only place elected officials are being shot at.

FB Ali

(W)hy is Israel so concerned with a possible future Iranian CAPABILITY on the model of Cheney's 1% rather than the much closer threat presented by Pakistan's CAPABILITY?

Col Lang asks a good question. The answer is, probably because Israel knows that it can get the US (and many other states) to join in nipping Iran’s budding nuclear ambitions while there is still no real threat from Pakistan. On the latter point, it probably has assurances from the US, including the promise to alert them if they feel any change occurring in the situation. Apart from policy and political trends in Pakistan, the US probably closely monitors changes in nuclear posture.

Israel’s stance would alter drastically should there be a change in Pakistan’s policy control structure. Israel probably already has contingency plans with both the US and India to deal with an altered threat level from Pakistan. Such a change in orientation would threaten both these countries in addition to Israel, and it is likely they would try to contain or deal with it on a joint basis.

It is probably such reassurance that enables Israel to ignore Pakistan’s current capability while dealing with Iran’s future capability.

Norman Rogers

Why does the shooting of this politician have any bearing on nuclear weapons in Pakistan?

No elected politician in Pakistan has any say or control whatsoever over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. That control rests firmly in the hands of the military.

Electoral politics in Pakistan are the sideshow. The main event has always been between the factions vying for control of the military.

I suspect there is a lot of confusion out there, based on this sort of research:


This document alleges that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, as chairperson of the National Command Authority, is in control of the nuclear arsenal.

Does anyone really believe this? Prime Minister Gillani is running that show? On paper or in point of fact?

Does anyone agree with me that the real center of power in Pakistan is oriented around General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani? I believe that Kayani calls the shots. Does he care what the politicians think? Would he take orders from any of them? Would he take orders from Gillani or Asif Zadari? Or is it the other way around, in practice rather than theory?

I am open-minded, so do not hesitate to quibble with my humble participation.


Remember that the PK missile tests were likely fired in a S/SE direction, and their primary targets are to the SE. That's probably the basis for their range estimates. Firing almost due W (W by SW?) would incur a range penalty due to fighting the earth's rotation. A really quick wag says the velocity hit is perhaps around 250m/sec. I'll let someone else do the real math.

Allen Thomson

> Second and later generations of nuclear weapons contain components with a limited "shelf life".

Tritium for boosting the primary and maybe used in the secondary. Half-life of 12ish years, and it decays into 3He, which is a serious neutron absorber. Good stuff decays, bad stuff builds up.


General Ali,

I understand Col Lang's post was in regard to capabilities. But if I may, I'd like to ask a question regarding intentions. Does the Pakistani leadership view Israel as a serious threat to Pakistani security? If not, what circumstances would make them change their minds?

Also, as we sense a steady move towards the extreme right (I would say fascism) in Israel, I would ask how would Pakistan's posture change should a future Israeli government openly threaten use of its nuclear arsenal (against any country other than Pakistan)?

Thank You, Sir


"Tritium for boosting the primary and maybe used in the secondary. Half-life of 12ish years, and it decays into 3He, which is a serious neutron absorber. Good stuff decays, bad stuff builds up."

...And Polonium210 if they are using it in the initiator - half life 136 days.



If that was the case why not build U235 bombs? Though it might have a lower yeild wouldn't it have longer "shelf-life"? Would actual size/weight be that much of a penalty?

William R. Cumming

Shaeen 2 is a Pershing 2 knockoff which also was solid fuel! So perhaps wrong but then question of deployments on QRA-Quick Reaction alerting or dug in or whatever! Mobility is most useful in preventing counterforce attacks. If nukes then side with most weapons after first strikes wins?eehn

secure care

would incur a range penalty due to fighting the earth's rotation

As I recall there is also a "trajectory bias" (which varies depending on the course the projectile travels) that affects accuracy and range due to gravitational and earth rotation variations, But if accuracy was of lower priority then these factors might not play much into the considerations.

Patrick Lang


A computational problem. The men who built it can do the math.


what's the point? That there warheads are unusable? I doubt that.


I can find no citation for the Shaheen missiles being copied or inspired by the long gone Pershing missiles. pl



The page you cite lists the following references:

  • A BBC article that claims a range of 2000km, with a potential range of 2500km. What's required to achieve this potential is not mentioned.
  • An article from the UPI that gives it's range at 1500 miles or 2414km (I suspect rounding down by a copy-editor)
  • A Guardian article that's unreachable, but that the missile threat website excerpts to say:
    • "This missile system, which incorporates advanced two-stage solid motor technology, can carry all types of conventional and nuclear warheads to a range of 2,000 kilometres."

This was the only reference I could find to a test range:

"On 19 March 2005 Pakistan successfully test-fired its longest-range, nuclear-capable missile. The Shaheen II missile successfully hit the target at a range of 2,000 km. President General Pervez Musharraf witnessed the test and congratulated the scientists and engineers for developing the missile. This missile which incorporates an advanced two-stage solid motor technology, can carry all types of conventional and nuclear warheads."

You're quite correct in saying that you can't assume the lower bound is the range. However I also don't think you can say they have a proven capability to hit Israel with the weapons they have deployed.

Patrick Lang



"With the deployment of the 2,500-kilometer Shaheen-II, development has shifted to the proposed 3,500- to 4,000-kilometer range Ghauri-III, which will be eventually replaced by the envisioned 4,000- to 4,500-kilometer Shaheen-III."

It has been two years since this story. I doubt that the Pakistanis have been resting on their laurels



pl: I should be clear, I'm not claiming they aren't developing weapons with the capability to hit Israel, or that they don't have the technical ability to develop weapons to hit Israel. All I'm claiming is that they don't have the demonstrated capability to hit Israel with their existing inventory of ballistic missiles. (I neglected to consider submarine launched cruise missiles, which Andy pointed out are another way they could launch an attack.)

FB Ali


The present Pakistani leadership (especially military) is focussed mainly on India. I cannot foresee any circumstances under which they would compromise that stance by switching attention to Israel, which does not pose any security threat to them, as you note.

It would be a different situation if an Islamist government came into power in Pakistan. For them an Israel occupying and threatening Muslim lands would be an enemy. If Israel were to threaten to use its nuclear weapons against a Muslim country, or actually use them, they would be likely to respond in like measure with their nuclear arsenal.

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