WASHINGTON - US officials have not so far commented on the deployment by Pakistan of a domestically developed unmanned combat aerial vehicle equipped with a laser-guided missile capable of striking its targets with pinpoint accuracy in all types of weather conditions, a development that was highlighted by American news media.

"The global proliferation of armed aerial drones took a major leap forward on Friday when Pakistan’s military said it had successfully tested its own version and would soon deploy them against terrorists," The Washington Post said in a report about the test-firing of the armed drone named "Burraq".

The newspaper said Pakistan’s decision will likely accelerate the already supercharged race among nations to follow in the footsteps of the United States by deploying unmanned aircraft as an instrument of war.

According to the New America Foundation, there is evidence that eight other countries — the United States, South Africa, France, Nigeria, Britain, Iran, Israel and China — have already put weapons onto unmanned aircraft.

The United States, Britain and Israel are the only three that have fired a missile from a drone during a military operation, the foundation said.

Dozens of other countries, including Pakistan’s archrival, India, are in the process of developing them, according to the foundation.

And last month, the Obama administration said it would permit the export of armed drones to US allies who request them on a “case­-by­-case basis.”

Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, said that Pakistan’s test confirms that the use of drones in warfare is here to stay. “This is not the start of the race; it’s mile seven of the race,” said Singer, adding, that India will probably also be able to quickly deploy an armed drone.

Still, he cautioned, the introduction of drones into Pakistan’s arsenal is not likely to alter the balance of power between the two nuclear-armed countries.

“We are not talking about technology that requires the Manhattan Project,” said Singer, referring to the US effort to build the world’s first nuclear weapon during World War II.

“The ability to fire a rocket off a drone is fundamentally different than a global operation where someone sitting in Nevada can fire from a plane 7,000 miles away.”

The Post said  Pakistan’s military posture changed after the Pakistani Taliban attacked an Army-­run school in Peshawar in December, killing about 150 students and teachers. After that attack, the military stepped up its campaign against Taliban strongholds in the northwestern part of the country near the border with Afghanistan.

Saad Muhammad, a retired Brigadier in the Pakistani Army, was cited as stating in the Post dispatch that the availability of drones will make it far easier for the military to track and kill militants.

“Pakistan is going to be facing this asymmetrical warfare for years to come,”  Saad Muhammad said. “There are areas where the state still does not have complete control and the enemy comes into sight for a very little time. It’s very costly to keep fighter planes in the air even for an hour.”

Since 2004, US drones have been targeting al Qaeda and other Islamist militants who have found refuge in northwestern Pakistan. Those strikes have killed more than 2,700 people, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, which monitors violence in the region.