Pakistan tests nuclear-capable cruise missile

Pakistan on Thursday successfully test-fired an air-launched cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the military said.

The launch of the Ra'ad missile, which has a range of 350 kilometres, was carried out at an undisclosed location, the military said, and came a day after India said it successfully test-launched its longest-range nuclear-capable missile, reported dpa.

The Ra'ad, developed exclusively for launch from aerial platforms, has enabled Pakistan to achieve a greater strategic standoff capability on land and at sea, a Pakistan military statement said.

Pakistan's missile-development programme is aimed mainly at what it calls maintaining strategic balance with its nuclear-armed rival and neighbour India.

Ra'ad, which is Arabic for thunder, is a low-altitude, terrain-following missile with high maneuverability, the military said.

The missile test is part of a continuing process of validating the design parameters of the weapons system, the Army said.

It was seventh missile test Pakistan has conducted this year. Last month, it carried out back-to-back tests of its longest-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the Hatf-VI (Shaheen-2), which can carry nuclear warheads a distance of 2,000 kilometres.

India's test launch Wednesday of its Agni III surface-to-surface missile, which can reach targets as far as eastern China, was conducted from a military base off the country's eastern coast.

The missile achieved its full range of 3,000 kilometres by reaching a target in the Indian Ocean, Indian defence officials said.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars, the first two over the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir.

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