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Pakistan’s Harbah cruise missile: A versatile naval asset

Interaction Team

The Harbah cruise missile was developed by Pakistan’s Global Industrial & Defense Solutions (GIDS). This medium-range subsonic cruise missile is uniquely designed to excel in both land attack and anti-ship missions, showcasing innovative features and adaptability that have captured significant attention. It is also believed that the Harbah missile is derived from the Babur family of cruise missiles.

Technical specifications:

The Harbah cruise missile features remarkable technical characteristics including a length of 6.8 meters and a diameter of 0.5 meters. Powered by a liquid-fuel engine that utilizes JP-8, a kerosene-based fuel, the missile has a substantial gross weight of 1.3 tonnes. The Harbah missile has been verified to cover a range of 280 kilometers, showcasing its effectiveness over considerable distances. Notably, it attains speeds ranging from 0.6 to 0.8 Mach (Mach represents the ratio of the speed of an object to the speed of sound in the surrounding medium.), highlighting its swift and dynamic performance.

Versatility in design:

Harbah’s versatility lies in its modular design, allowing for the integration of various warheads, including fragmentation and anti-ship options, as well as different guidance systems. The missile employs inertial navigation technologies coupled with GPS (Global Positioning System) and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System), ensuring precise targeting in “all-weather operations”.

Guidance systems and capabilities:

The Harbah missile is equipped with advanced guidance systems, including a DSMAC (Digital Scene Matching Area Correlator) camera, imaging infrared seeker, and radar seeker. According to Asad Kamal, the CEO of GIDS, the unique capabilities of the Harbah allow it to effectively navigate through intricate terrains and structures.

Its programmable trajectory utilizes the seeker to execute a sophisticated relation-matching process, ensuring precise targeting with zigzag patterns. This sophisticated approach prevents easy anticipation by adversaries. When the missile reaches its target, it undergoes acquisition and engagement processes to fulfill its mission.

Operational success:

On January 3, 2018, the Pakistan Navy marked a significant achievement by successfully test-firing the Harbah cruise missile. The test, carried out from the Azmat-class fast-attack craft PNS Himmat, demonstrated the missile’s effectiveness in both anti-ship and land-attack scenarios.

During the test, the then naval chief, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, observed the proceedings from aboard the Perry-class frigate Alamgir. He stressed the importance of leveraging indigenous defense capabilities and reducing reliance on foreign countries. Admiral Abbasi also reiterated the Pakistan Navy’s determination to ensure the seaward defense of Pakistan and protect national maritime interests at all costs.

Strategic implications:

Analysts predict that the Harbah cruise missile is poised to become the Pakistan Navy’s standard anti-ship missile. Brian Cloughley, an author, analyst, and former Australian defense attaché to Islamabad, points out that its deployment could bolster Pakistan’s influence in the Arabian Sea, specifically countering worries about India’s naval expansion. According to Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst, the Harbah represents a significant leap forward for the Pakistan Navy. “It offers both anti-ship and land-attack. If it’s based on the Babur, then it has a range of up to 700 kilometers, which, whilst not very long range, is sufficient to be militarily useful and certainly better than older systems such as Harpoon and C-802,” he said.

Conclusion:

The Harbah cruise missile emerges as a sophisticated and adaptable naval asset, showcasing Pakistan’s prowess in defense technology. With its successful tests and potential integration into future naval platforms, the Harbah stands as a symbol of self-reliance and innovation in Pakistan’s defense industry. As geopolitical dynamics continue to evolve, the Harbah’s role in bolstering the Pakistan Navy’s capabilities remains a topic of strategic interest.

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