A haunting peal reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands reverberates across Pakistan’s inhospitable Cholistan desert the nation’s first camel-mounted military bagpipe band marches, noses in the air. With scarlet and gold uniforms in sharp contrast to the dichromatic landscape of beige and green, the camels’ tails switch in perfect rhythm. Their passengers sway above them with looks of nervous concentration as they try to keep balance while blaring out the notes. “It is very difficult to play the bagpipe while sitting on the camel,” admits piper Muhammad Hussain. “But we have now learned the art.”
The Ghaznavi is a hypersonic and surface to surface short rangeballistic missile designed and developed by the National Development Complex, in service with the Pakistan Army’s strategic command since 2004. With an optimal range of 290 km, it is named after the 11th century Muslim Turkic conquerorMahmud of Ghazni. The missile has a length of 9.64m, diameter of 0.99 m, launch weight of 5256 kg and is powered by a single stage solid fuel rocket motor. It is believed influenced from a Chinese design, the M-11 (NATO reporting name: CSS-7).
Initially, the Pakistan government was actively pushing of acquiring the M-11 missiles from China on purpose of a quick deployment. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto personally lobbied in China for the M-11 missiles, but unable to do so after the intense pressure mounted by the United States and the MTCR’s strict monitoring of prevention of the technology transfers of the missiles. Development on Ghaznavi started in 1990s after the refusal of export of M-11 missiles from China toPakistan. The Ghaznavi was pursuit alongside with the Abdali program, and its features extremely close to Chinese M-11.The Ghaznavi program went to NDC and designed the missile which was extremely close to that Chinese M-11.
The Pakistan military officials consistently maintained that the Ghaznavi program is locally designed and ingeniously built. In 1995, its engine was successfully tested and was said to be a “major break-through in missile development in Pakistan”.
The Ghaznavi has a range of 600km with a payload of 500kg and a proper terminal guidance system giving it an accuracy of 0.1%, as the CEP at 600km— a similar to the Indian Prithvi surface to surface ballistic missile which is at 250km. This meant that Ghaznavi was to be controlled by an on-board computer for accuracy and was not to follow a purely ballistic trajectory.The main features of Ghaznavi are its two-stage rocket ability for war-head separation, a terminal guidance system and five different types of warheads, designed by DESTO. Pakistani scientists and engineers who worked on the missile recalled their memories on the development of the Ghaznavi, and maintained that the “most difficult part of the missile’s development was its computerized guidance system which was developed at the Margalla Electronics and NIE.”
Tests and status
The Ghaznavi took its first spaceflight on 26 May 2002, at the height of the military standoff between India and Pakistan. On 3 October 2003, the Ghaznavi was again successfully test fired from an undisclosed location, and was quoted by the military as “highly successful”. The Ghaznavi successfully reached to its target and has a range of 290km (180mi), making it capable of striking several key targets within neighboring nuclear rival, India The Ghaznavi entered in the service in March 2004 and currently with the Pakistan Army.
Its third test launched took place on 8 December 2004; subsequent tests were conducted on 9 December 2006 another on 13 February 2008 and 8 May 2010; the 2008 test was believed to have concluded a winter training exercise of Pakistan’s Army Strategic Force Command (ASFC). In May 2012, one more successful test of the missile was conducted as part of a training exercise.
During its development at the NDC, the program was named in the memory of Mahmud of Ghazni– the 10th century Turkic emperor who founded the Ghaznavid Empire and frequently invaded India. The JS HQ, however, officially codenames the missile as “Hatf–III Ghaznavi”.