Pakistan gets powerful missile tracking system from China: report
BEIJING: Pakistan has acquired a powerful tracking system from China that could speed up the country’s development of multi-warhead missiles, according to a report published in the South China Morning Post.
The report cites a statement from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) as saying that China was the first country to export such sensitive equipment to Pakistan.
Zheng Mengwei, a researcher with the CAS Institute of Optics and Electronics in Chengdu, Sichuan province, confirmed to the South China Morning Post that Pakistan had bought a highly sophisticated, large-scale optical tracking and measurement system from China.
The Pakistani military recently deployed the Chinese-made system “at a firing range” for use in testing and developing its new missiles, he said.
India and Pakistan are in a heated race to build up their nuclear weapons capabilities.
India’s January 18 test of its Agni-V ICBM, with a range of more than 5,000km (3,100 miles), is seen as a message that the South Asian giant can deploy a credible nuclear deterrent against China, the report adds.
The report further says that India’s single-warhead missiles are bigger and cover longer distances, however Pakistan has focused its efforts on developing multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), a type of missile carrying several nuclear warheads that can be directed towards different targets.
There are growing concerns that MIRV technology will tip the strategic balance between India and Pakistan and destabilise the subcontinent.
It has been a long-held notion that Beijing is supporting Islamabad’s missile development programme. But solid evidence can seldom be found in the public domain, making the CAS statement a rarity.
The Chinese team was here for nearly three months assembling and calibrating the tracking system and training technical staff on how to use it, according to the statement.
“The system’s performance surpassed the user’s expectations,” it said, adding that it was considerably more complex than Pakistan’s home-made systems.
The report says it’s not clear how much Pakistan paid for the system.
China has sold Pakistan many conventional weapons, including warships, fighters, short-range missiles, diesel submarines and surveillance drones.