Pakistan Strategic Plans Division (SPD) has unveiled extended range Ra’ad 2 (“Thunder 2”) air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) during Pakistan's Day Parade.
The Ra’ad 2 has a stated range of 550 km. The sub-sonic Ra’ad ALCM series is considered as a key piece of the Pakistani military’s deterrence strategy, specifically its second-strike ability, with its low-detectable design and terrain-hugging capability, Quwa reported today.
Ra’ad 2 is known as an improved and extended-range of the 350 km Ra’ad ALCM, which was introduced by Air Weapons Complex (AWC) and the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) in 2007.
The Ra’ad and Babur land-attack cruise missiles (LACM) are capable of delivering miniature nuclear warheads.
External differences between the Ra’ad and Ra’ad 2 appear to be minimal as the emphasis was only to extend the range further. The Ra’ad ALCM-series is deployed from the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) Mirage III/5 aircraft.
While it aimed for strategic purposes, the Ra’ad could have the potential to serve in a conventional role. Like other conventional munitions, it can carry a conventional high-explosive warhead, which could be useful for reinforced targets.
In the long-term, there are other ALCM-related possibilities. For example, precision-guided sub-munitions such as the BLU-105 enable the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) to engage multiple targets in an area, such as armoured formations, air fields, air defence sites, and dockyards, among others. An analogous solution could be a next-step for the Ra’ad.