|Manufacturer:||Shahid Kolah Dooz Industrial Complex|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
|Name:||Main battle tank|
Early in 1994, Iran unveiled a new MBT called the Zulfiqar which has been developed by 'Construction Crusade', an arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Russia is known to have provided Iran with a quantity of T-72 MBTs and recent reports have indicated that the Zulfiqar uses some components of the Russian T-72 including the 125 mm smooth bore gun and automatic loader. The T-72S, which is an export version of the T-72 and is fitted with ERA, is now being manufactured in Iran under licence.
A detailed analysis of available information and photographs of the Zulfiqar reveal that the hull and turret are of welded steel construction and bear little resemblance to the T-72 at all.
The Russian T-72 MBT, like the earlier T-54/T-55/ T-62, is powered by a diesel engine with the air intakes/ outlets in the hull roof and the single exhaust outlet on the left side of the hull towards the rear.
The new Iranian MBT is powered by a diesel engine with two exhaust outlets in the rear of the hull; this could indicate the engine is a V-type.
The layout of the Zulfiqar MBT is conventional with the driver front left, turret in the centre and the power pack at the rear. The driver has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the right and three periscopes for driving when closed up.
Suspension appears to be of the torsion bar type with six dual rubber-tyred roadwheels, idler at the front and large drive sprocket at the rear; there are five return rollers.
The roadwheels and other parts of the suspension appear to be very similar to those of the US M60 series MBT which has been in service with Iran for many years. The hull of the Iranian MBT is of the box shape rather than the boat shape of the M48/M60 series.
The front of the turret is well sloped and is angled to the rear to provide the maximum possible level of protection. There is a domed ventilator in the turret roof on the right side and this is similar to that fitted to the US M48/M60 series MBTs, as are the day/night driving lights mounted on the glacis plate.
The commander is seated on the right with the gunner on the left. The two examples of the Zulfiqar do have a number of minor differences in the commander's cupola. The first one is similar to that used in the T-72 while the second one has a cupola that is similar to that developed in Israel and has an externally mounted 12.7 mm MG.
Main armament comprises a 125 mm smoothbore gun which is fitted with a fume extractor and may well be fed by an automatic loader. The 125 mm gun is positioned in a very narrow mantlet and there does not appear to be a coaxial machine gun fitted.
The Zulfiqar has been shown engaging stationary targets firing armour-piercing projectiles but when moving across rough country the main armament did not appear to be stabilised.
Iran may well have the capability to assemble an MBT but it must be considered veiy doubtful if every single component used in the Zulfiqar is produced in Iran. Some key subsystems must still be imported.
No detailed specifications of the Zulfiqar have been released but Iran sources have stated that it has a combat weight of 40 tonnes, is powered by a 1,000 hp diesel and has a maximum road speed of 70 km/h.
Iranian sources also claim that the Zulfiqar is fitted with a weapon stabilisation system and a computerised fire-control system which includes a laser range-finder. Night vision equipment is also fitted.
Production of the Zulfiqar commenced in 1997, although pre-production vehicles could have been completed in 1996.
In production. In service with the Iranian Army. There are no known exports of the Zulfiqar.