Pakistan has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warning of “radar decoy deployment” in the Arabian Sea off Karachi from February 4th to 17th, 2024. This has triggered speculation among defense analysts, suggesting a potential missile test, particularly of anti-radiation missiles targeting enemy warships.

The use of radar decoys typically precedes missile testing activities, as they serve to confuse and mislead enemy radar systems. This has led analysts to believe that Pakistan might be gearing up for a missile test, possibly involving anti-radiation missiles designed to target enemy radar installations, particularly those on warships.

While the exact type of missile under testing remains unknown, potential candidates include:

  • Babur (Hatf 7): A Medium-range, anti-ship missile with radar-homing capabilities.
  • Zarb: shore-based anti-ship missile (AShM)
  • Shaheen-III: A long-range, ballistic missile with potential anti-ship capabilities in its terminal phase.

The timing and location of the planned deployment are noteworthy. The Arabian Sea is a strategic maritime theater bordering India, with whom Pakistan has long-standing tensions. Additionally, the deployment coincides with ongoing maritime exercises involving India, the US, and Japan, further adding to the intrigue.

The lack of official confirmation from Pakistan leaves room for speculation. While the decoy deployment suggests a possible missile test, the exact nature and purpose of the test remain unclear.