Pakistan Test Fires Nuclear-Capable Hatf-VIII Cruise Missile

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Pakistan Thursday test fired a medium range cruise missile capable of delivering nuclear and conventional warheads within a range of 350 kilometers.

The Hatf-VIII (Ra' ad) cruise missile with stealth capabilities is an indigenously developed, low altitude, terrain-hugging missile with highly developed manoeuvrability and accuracy.

A major additional feature of today's test was the effective employment of the National Command Authority's fully automated Strategic Command and Control Support System, Pakistani army said in a statement, according to agency reports.

This system has enabled robust command and control capability of all strategic assets with round the clock situational awareness in a digitized network-centric environment to decision makers at the National Command Centre.

A new automated command and control system was also tested during the launch.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani congratulated the scientists behind the mission which has further strengthened country's military arsenal which includes short, medium and intermediate range missiles.

The launch of Ra'ad is the second missile test this week and fourth over a month.

The recent launch of India's first long-range missile Agni-V, which significantly leveraged Indian military's might, with the ability to clock a range of more than 5,000 kilometers had raised concerns of an arms race in neighboring China and Pakistan.

It was reported that a bilateral arms race between India and China was bound to acquire trilateral dimensions due to the ongoing border dispute between India and Pakistan, the historic rival attitudes, unstable democracy in Pakistan and the proximity between the three nations.

However, a slow-paced peace process was initiated in March following a three-year long suspension of bilateral dialogue between the Asian nations.

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