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Starfish Naval Mine

Pakistan is ready to test a sophisticated naval ground mine said to have just entered serial production.

The Starfish from Islamabad-based National Development Complex carries an 88kg warhead and a 500kg PBX main charge. The dimensions of the whole unit (1,807mm length, 533.4mm diameter) indicate that it is designed to be launched from standard 533mm torpedo tubes found on Russian-made submarines and surface vessels, although personnel at IDEX said it could be launched from any small boat. The mine is intended to operate for 700 days with a total life of 20 years. It loiters at depths of 10-200m.

The explosive is initiated by microprocessor-based software and can be operated with three different kinds of sensors selectable in any combination. The piezoelectric ceramic tube hydrophone acoustic sensor is sensitive to about 53dB and can detect surface ships up to 1km away (350m for submarines).

The pressure sensor has a semi-conductor strain gauge, sensitive to -14.7dB and can also detect surface ships at 1km (100m for submarines). Lastly, a three-axis fluxgate magneto meter magnetic sensor is effective at low ranges to about 150m.

Tests will take place in June/ July 2001, although no firm orders have yet been placed. Training and exercise versions are also being produced.