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Has Pakistan Test-Flown Its New Missile?

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    Has Pakistan Test-Flown Its New Missile?

    Has Pakistan Test-Flown Its New Missile?
    2209 GMT, 000818

    Approximately seven objects streaked through the
    skies of western Pakistan on Aug. 15. Thousands of
    villagers witnessed unidentified objects flying from
    west to east, and crashing into the mountains east of
    the city of Quetta.

    Reports are still unclear, but the most likely
    explanation is that Pakistan has resumed missile
    testing, possibly flying the Ghuari III for the first

    The initial explanation seems to be centering on a possible meteor shower. But
    the Pakistani military reportedly scoured the mountains afterwards, searching for
    debris. And the incident took place on arch-rival India's independence day.

    Local Pakistani media report that witnesses in eastern Afghanistan and western
    Pakistan saw six or seven missile-like objects flying “in formation” or “in a row”
    before disappearing into Pakistan’s western mountains. No explosions were
    reported. Eyewitnesses guessed that the objects were about 15 meters long,
    flying at perhaps 5,000 to 7,000 feet. The Pakistani government denies that any
    missiles landed in Pakistan, but has dispatched army troops and militia to locate
    the impact sites.

    The sightings could be explained by a meteor shower or a satellite returning to
    earth. But a researcher at a major astronomy institute discounts the meteor
    shower theory, and the world press makes no mention of a planned satellite
    re-entry. Alternately, Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban might have staged the attack --
    they possess FROG-7s and Scuds -- but there are reasons to believe otherwise.
    It is unclear that the Taliban’s missiles are still operational and seems unlikely
    that they would be wasted without hitting any target of value.

    In fact, The News, a Pakistani daily, reports that Taliban officials initially thought
    they were under attack from U.S. cruise missiles. The aircraft carrier USS
    George Washington and its battle group are currently deployed in the Persian
    Gulf, providing plenty of potential firepower. But it makes little political sense to
    strike targets in Pakistan, whose government has not blamed Washington.

    The more likely answer is that the launches came from within Pakistan. The
    Pakistani air force operates a major base just west of Quetta, close to the Afghan
    border, and has used the surrounding land as a missile test range. In 1988, the
    range was used as the impact site for a missile test.

    Based on the eyewitness reports, the 75-foot tall Ghauri III may fit the
    description. If witnesses saw several objects, it is possible that the missile broke
    up or was purposely destroyed in flight before impact. This would explain the
    Taliban’s confusion -- as well as the Pakistani army’s decision to scour the hills
    looking for fragments.

    The Ghauri III would represent an important leap in Pakistani technology, allowing
    the military to strike targets deep inside India. The missile, a version of the North
    Korean Taepo Dong I, has an estimated range of 1800 miles and can carry a
    payload of about 200 pounds.

    Development has been quietly taking place The missile engine was successfully
    tested Sept. 30, 1999, according to Islamabad's The News, a daily. The test took
    place at the Kahuta Research Laboratories. Pakistan's defense establishment
    appears to have focused heavily on increasing the range of missiles, according to
    local media reports.

    Most South Asian missile tests are cases of tit for tat. However, Pakistan didn’t
    respond to the most recent Indian test last June – possibly a signal that it wanted
    to decrease tensions with New Delhi. The fact that the incident took place literally
    as far from the Indian border -- and Indian monitoring -- as possible may indicate
    that Islamabad is attempting to advance its missile program without anyone
    finding out.

    Had a test succeeded, Islamabad would likely have crowed about it. The day of
    the incident was India’s independence day.

    You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!