Is Pakistan over confident with its Ra'ad Cruise Missile ?
The Pakistan Air force's ultimate Air to ground weapon is the Ra'ad Air Launched cruise Missile, Frankly speaking it's one of the best Air launched missiles across the Globe and is in par with European missile systems, The subsonic missile has a range of around 350 kilometers and can carry a 450 kg of high explosive or around 10 kilo ton Nuclear warheads, the missile becomes deadlier with terrain hugging capability.
The Missile uses the decade old INS - Inertial Guidance system. INS basically works based on the accelerometer and gyroscope to lock to the target with GPS guidance. This system can be easily jammed by several means. Firstly the missile relies on American GPS satellites for guidance and if these GPS Satellites are switched off then the missile becomes a wanderer in eternity. Pakistan lacks an dedicated satellite system which is crucial for strategic operations. India has the dedicated IRNSS program taking wings.
It is believed that the the Ra'ad is a cloned version of Tomahawk missile. The Tomahawk though themselves are under Pakistan is governed by strict rules. But during the Afgan war Pakistan had taken possession of around five unexploded Tomahawk that had landed in Pakistan territory. With little or renewed efforts and help of China it is believed Pakistan developed the Ra'ad and the Babur missiles. These missiles have been repeatedly test fired from time to time and have turned out to be very successful.
Pakistan has fitted these missiles out on its Mirage platform, the aircraft is capable of carrying the missile tagged to its multiple weapons stations. Even though the latest aircraft in Pakistan's inventory is the F-16 gifted by the US, fitting out the Ra'ad on it is a distant dream thanks to the IP terms laid down by US. The soon to be inducted China-Pakistani JF 17 platform can carry the Ra'ad.
The missile is capable of targeting forward Indian posts close to the border but the missile entering India's mainland is a distant dream.
1. Most of the cruise missiles use dedicated satellites for target acquisition which provides dedicated information about target position and performance. But Pakistani Ra'ad relay's only on the GPS, and Ra'ad mainly relies on American GPS system, the GPS being relayed to the missile can either be intercepted and manipulated directly or dedicated jammers can easily jam the signal to the missile systems. The accuracy in GPS oriented system is extremely limited. Mos of the Indian missiles mainly demand on SATNAV and RLG ( Ring Laser Guidances ) which guarantee unmatched accuracy. A two second GPS Jamming can make huge difference in the Ra'ad strike performance, a two second jam makes the missile less accurate CEP at 2 kilometers.
2. The Indian early warning radar's can easily track hostile Pakistani jets, and the launched Ra'ad cruise missiles path can be traced inch by inch and guaranteed interceptor systems can be deployed. Even if the missile employs terrain hugging, integrated AWECS and Aerostats can easily track and guide the interceptor missiles to intercept the incoming missile. Ra'ad is operational only at high altitude meaning the missile relies on a Hi Lo Hi mode. This mandates the missile has to gain altitude as it closes in on the target and once the missile starts gaining altitude the missile can be detected and be destroyed by QR SAM systems. India's Akash can be a potent interceptor against the Ra'ad. The missile being huge in size and the RCS mandates supersonic fighters of the IAF can chase the missile and intercept it using their BVR or heat seeking missiles.
3. With the advanced F-16 being placed out of the mission, Pakistan will be left only with the aging Mirage 111 platform for launching Ra'ad missile. Pakistan has more than around fifty aircraft and the jets are aging and using the jets for deep penetrating strikes would be a disaster for the PAF thanks to the superior jets which patrol the Indian skies prowling for victims. Let alone the IAF jets, the stand in multi layer air defense missiles can easily intercept these aircraft thus neutralizing the imminent threat. The Ra'ad is a capable platform for nuclear missions. The missile can carry a 10 kilo-Ton nuclear warhead and the missile can be intercepted with the standard package. The missile will explode in the air or close to the ground inflicting sustained damage on Indian target.
But once Pakistan initiates a nuclear strike, India will be forced to retaliate. The retaliatory strikes will inflict heavy damage on Pakistan and India may consider neutralizing threats through out Pakistan by sustained bombing missions. Pakistan's claim of comparing the Ra'ad with the world's fastest cruise missile BrahMos is over audacious. Salvo of BrahMos is a nightmare for even the latest interceptor systems.
Editor Karthik Kakoor