The office of the spokesperson of the Pakistan Army has released footage of a weapon test that they claim is of a new rocket capable of hitting a target with a conventional warhead at a range of 87 miles (140 kms) – the Fatah-1.
In a tweet featuring the test firing, Major General Babar Iftikhar said that the new rocket was capable of “precision target engagement” and offered his congratulations to the soldiers and scientists working on the project.
Details other than the tweet are sparse, but it is reported that the new weapon is used in a Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRL). As a result it appears to broadly compare to the U.S. Army’s ATACM, though with shorter range.
Pakistan’s press are reporting that the Fatah-1 is indigenously developed and it seems likely that it is an evolutionary off shoot of the Chinese A-100 system that is in service with the Pakistan army. This rocket is produced in Pakistan and has provided the country with useful experience in producing and utilising long-range rocket artillery systems.
The A-100 is broadly based of the Russian BM-30 Smerch system and, though is not used by the Chinese themselves, has subsequently been developed into more advanced variants; the A-200 and A-300. These improved systems – especially the A-200 – certainly appear in reports to match the capability of the Fatah-1 quite closely.
Given the close cooperation between China and Pakistan on advanced weaponry, it is entirely possible that the Chinese have provided assistance in the development of the Fatah-1. With tensions heightened between China and India on their Himalayan frontier, the Chinese efforts to improve the Pakistan military’s capabilities on the sea, air and on the ground are no doubt an important feature in their policy of keeping as much of the Indian military diverted in watching their historic foe as possible.