The Pakistan Navy (PN) had in April 2018 released one of the first images of its Zarb land-based anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) system (also known as the Zarb Weapon System) being test-launched.

In the April issue of its Navy News magazine, the PN published a photograph of the Zarb ASCM being fired from an 8×8 transport-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle at the Jinnah Naval Base in Ormara, Baluchistan Province, as part of the recently conducted naval exercise ‘Sealion III’.

The missile, which was fired by the PN’s Naval Missile Regiment under the Naval Strategic Force Command, successfully hit its intended target, said the publication without providing further details about the test or the system.

Other than the colour scheme, the missile shown in the images appeared to be a Chinese C-602, which is the export variant of the domestic YJ-62. The C-602 is a medium-range anti-ship/land-attack missile, which has a stated maximum range of 280 km and is armed with a 300 kg high-explosive semi-armour-piercing (SAP) warhead.

The TEL vehicle used to fire the Zarb ASCM features three container launch units (CLUs) and is also almost identical to that used by the YJ-62 mobile coastal defence system operated by China’s People’s Liberation Army.

The TEL vehicle has a main front cab, a separate rear command cab, a power-generation system, and an elevating launch platform holding the three CLUs.

Although arranged differently and of a different coloration, the CLUs also appear to be exactly the same as those used by the Chinese Navy’s Luyang II (Type 052C)-class destroyers.

The Zarb ASCM provides the Pakistan Navy with an anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) asset for guarding Pakistan’s littoral waters. Its utility stems from three key features:

  • Its range coverage effectively covers Pakistan’s littoral waters (i.e. deterring intruding threats to coastal assets, such as fast attack craft and amphibious vessels).

  • It is launched from a moving vehicle, enabling the Navy to change the Zarb’s deployment in concert with immediate tactical requirements.

  • It can carry a heavier payload than the ship and air-launched C-802, thus possessing a higher damage level.

However, the Zarb’s true potential necessitates the support of a long-range surface surveillance and targeting radar. It is plausible that the Pakistan Navy will leverage the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) ZDK03-based Karakoram Eagle airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platform, but it is common to see long-range ASCMs supported by surface-based sensors as well.

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