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In the domain of strategic weaponry, the Babur cruise missile, known as Hatf-VII in military terminology, is a testament to Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to fortify its national defense capabilities.

This medium-range subsonic cruise missile, powered by a turbojet engine, represents a formidable asset within Pakistan’s arsenal, boosting the versatility of being launched from both land-based and underwater seaborne platforms. The journey of the Babur missile, from its inception to its recent advancements, presents a compelling narrative of Pakistan’s resolute determination to safeguard its national security interests.


The Babur missile made its global debut in 2005 with a successful test launch, marking a pivotal moment in Pakistan’s pursuit of a robust missile program. Developed by Pakistan’s National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), this endeavor involved extensive research and technological advancements.

Following several successful tests, the Babur missile was officially inducted into the Pakistan Army’s arsenal in 2010, signifying its operational readiness. Subsequently, in 2018, it was adopted by the Pakistan Navy, expanding its strategic reach across multiple branches of the armed forces.


The Babur cruise missile, measuring 6.2 meters in length and 0.52 meters in diameter, with a wingspan of 2.5 meters, evinces a meticulously crafted design characterized by various elements that collectively render it a formidable strategic asset.

Its airframe features a tubular fuselage housing folded wings in the mid-section, while the rear section accommodates the missile’s propulsion system. Powered by a turbojet engine, the Babur achieves impressive speeds, reaching a maximum of approximately 550 mph.

During launch, the missile receives an additional thrust from a booster, propelling it away from the launch vehicle. Subsequently, the missile’s wings unfurl, the booster rocket is jettisoned, and the jet engine is activated, facilitating a seamless transition to the missile’s cruising phase.

Significantly, the Babur’s design emphasizes high maneuverability, enabling it to closely follow terrain contours and operate with a degree of “near-stealth.” This unique capability enables the missile to evade enemy’s radar detection, employing a technique known as “terrain masking” to penetrate rival air defense systems undetected.


Central to the Babur’s precision is its guidance system, which incorporates cutting-edge technologies. It relies on a combination of Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM), and GPS satellite guidance. This fusion ensures the missile can effectively reach its intended targets. An upgraded variant introduced in 2016 showcased the missile’s ability to accurately strike land and sea-based targets without relying on GPS, further enhancing its precision.


The operational history of the Babur missile reflects a relentless pursuit of excellence:

  1. In August 2005, Pakistan publicly announced the successful test of the Babur missile, initially with a range of 500 km.
  2. In March 2007, an upgraded version extended the Babur’s range to 700 km.
  3. Subsequent test-firings in 2009, 2011, and 2012 highlighted the missile’s evolving capabilities, including its capacity to carry both nuclear and conventional warheads.
  4. The introduction of the Babur II in 2016 marked a significant milestone, featuring improved aerodynamics and avionics, enabling precise targeting without GPS assistance and the ability to engage sea-based and land-based objectives.
  5. In January 2017, the Babur III, launched from an underwater mobile platform, achieved a range of 450 km, enhancing second-strike capability.
  6. Ongoing developments included the introduction of the Babur-1A in February 2021, with upgraded avionics and navigation systems, capable of targeting ground-based and sea-based surface objectives within a 450 km range.
  7. In December 2021, Pakistan successfully tested the enhanced-range Babur-1B, with a range exceeding 900 km.


On the occasion of successful test launch of Babur-1B in December 2021, the DG of the Strategic Plans Division said that the recent missile test serves to strengthen Pakistan’s strategic deterrence. This deterrence strategy, known as “full spectrum deterrence,” primarily focuses on India and aims to bring every potential Indian target within the range of Pakistan’s nuclear missiles.

Lt. General Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, Advisor Development National Command Authority, emphasizes the need for Pakistan’s deterrence capability to offer a range of options against various types of targets, spanning from sub-conventional to strategic levels.

This approach to missile development is rooted in the goal of deterring both conventional and strategic threats, while maintaining cost-effectiveness relative to Pakistan’s nuclear adversary in South Asia (Khan, January 28, 2022).


The Babur missile carries profound implications for Pakistan’s defense strategy and the broader regional security landscape:

Deterrence: Pakistan has traditionally relied on its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent against external threats. The precision and extended range of the Babur missile introduce a new dimension to Pakistan’s deterrence capabilities. It can be employed to signal a robust response to any form of aggression, whether conventional or nuclear.

Strategic Reach: With its considerable range, the missile enables Pakistan to target vital military installations and infrastructure in the neighboring country. This potential shift in the balance of power within the region is significant.

Second-Strike Capability: The introduction of the Babur-3 variant, designed for submarine launch, enhances Pakistan’s second-strike capability. This ensures a credible and survivable response in the event of a nuclear conflict.


In conclusion, the Babur cruise missile, marked by its intricate design and continuous evolution, serves as a symbol of Pakistan’s unwavering dedication to enhancing its strategic capabilities. Its operational history underscores Pakistan’s commitment to technological advancement and self-reliance within the realm of military technologies.

The Babur remains a formidable asset, guaranteeing Pakistan’s readiness in an ever-evolving security landscape and strengthening the nation’s determination to safeguard its security interests.

The author is Research Officer at Rabita Forum International (RFI).

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