Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable Shaheen missile

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Islamabad, Apr 21 (UNI) Pakistan today successfully conducted the first training launch of nuclear-capable long range Hatf VI (Shaheen-II) ballistic missile, the military said, ''The launch was conducted by the Army Strategic Force Command, which marked the culmination of a field training exercise,'' the military said in a statement after the test fire.

''It validated the operational readiness of a strategic missile group equipped with Shaheen-II missile,'' the statement added.

Shaheen-II is Pakistan's longest range ballistic missile system with a range of 2000 Km. It is a two stage solid fuel missile, which can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

This was the second test in the last two days of the same missile.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir and a large number of senior military officers, scientists and engineers of strategic organisations witnessed the launch.

Admiral Tahir congratulated all ranks of the Army Strategic Forces on the high standards achieved during training, which was reflected in the successful launch and accuracy of the missile at the target.

He said Pakistan could be justifiably proud of its defence capability and the reliability of its nuclear deterrence.

The naval chief lauded efforts of all personnel, civilian and military, whose dedication and professionalism had made it possible for Pakistan to fully consolidate and operationalise its nuclear capability.

The capability, he further added formed the bedrock of Pakistan's security policy and would continue to be enhanced.

Pakistan formally kicked off its medium-range missile programme in April 1998, with the first successful test flight of Gauri-I missile followed by similar tests in the coming years involving the nuclear capable Gauri, Shaheen, Ghaznavi and Abdali missile systems.

HATF-3 (Ghaznavi), HATF-5 (Ghauri), HATF-4 (Shaheen-1) have already been handed over to Pakistan Army's Strategic Force Command.

Pakistan's inventory of missiles also include Ground Launched Cruise Missile, Babur, which has a range of 700 kilometers.

UNI XC RJ BST1427

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