Even as it seeks financial help from China and Gulf nations, the Pakistan government continued to gradually expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems, and a growing fissile material production industry. According to a research report by the Federation of American Scientists, Pakistan has continued to fund its military programmes, and now has a “nuclear weapons stockpile of approximately 170 warheads”.
“Analysis of commercial satellite images of construction at Pakistani army garrisons and air force bases shows what appear to be newer launchers and facilities that might be related to Pakistan’s nuclear forces,” a report by the Federation of American Scientists said.
Federation of American Scientists presented the report based on analysis of commercial satellite images of construction at Pakistani army garrisons and air force bases.
Nuclear-capable aircraft and air-delivered weapons
Pakistan currently is producing sufficient fissile material to build 14 to 27 new warheads per year, as per the report. The Nuclear-capable aircraft most likely are Pakistan’s Mirage III and Mirage V fighter squa- drons. The Pakistani Air Force’s (PAF) Mirage fighter- bombers are located at two bases, according to Federation of American Scientists.
Masroor Air Base outside Karachi houses the 32nd Wing with three Mirage squadrons: 7th Squadron (“Bandits”), 8th Squadron (“Haiders”), and 22nd Squadron (“Ghazis”). A possible nuclear weapons storage site is located five kilometers northwest of the Masroor base, TOI reported.
Land-based ballistic missiles
Pakistan appears to have six currently operational nuclear-capable, solid-fuel, road-mobile ballistic missile systems: the short-range Abdali (Hatf-2), Ghaznavi (Hatf-3), Nasr (Hatf-9), Shaheen-I/A (Hatf-4), and the medium-range Ghauri (Hatf-5) and Shaheen-II (Hatf-6).
Two other nuclear-capable ballistic missile systems are currently under development: the medium- range Shaheen-III and the MIRVed Ababeel, the report said.
Land-based missile garrisons
As per the report, an analysis of commercial satellite imagery suggests that Pakistan maintains at least five missile bases that could serve a role in Pakistan’s nuclear forces.