ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan fired its first submarine-launched cruise missile on Monday, the military said, a show of force for a country that sees its missile development as a deterrent against arch-foe India.
The launch of the nuclear-capable Babur-3 missile, which has a range of 450 km (280 miles) and was fired from an undisclosed location in the Indian Ocean, is likely to heighten long-running tension between India and Pakistan.
The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. Both nations have been developing missiles of varying ranges since they conducted nuclear tests in May 1998.
“Pakistan eyes this hallmark development as a step toward reinforcing the policy of credible minimum deterrence,” the military’s media wing said in a statement.
A spokesman at the Indian defense ministry was not immediately available to comment on the Pakistani missile test.
India successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable, submarine-launched missile in 2008 and tested a submarine-launched cruise missile in 2013.
The Pakistani military said the Babur-3 missile was “capable of delivering various types of payloads and will provide Pakistan with a Credible Second Strike Capability, augmenting deterrence”.
An army spokesman later confirmed the language meant the missile was equipped to carry nuclear warheads.
The Babur-3 is a sea-based variant of the ground-launched Babur-2 missile, which was tested in December. The military said the missile had features such as “underwater controlled propulsion and advanced guidance and navigation”.
Last year, Pakistan said it was “seriously concerned” by India’s test of anti-ballistic missiles which media reports said could intercept incoming nuclear weapons.
According to media reports, on May 15 India tested a locally designed Anti-Ballistic Missile system which could in theory intercept a nuclear-carrying ballistic missile.
Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Nick Macfie