MANUFACTURER(S): Defence Industries Organization - Iran
LENGTH: 22.97 feet (7 meters)
WIDTH: 11.81 feet (3.6 meters)
HEIGHT: 8.20 feet (2.5 meters)
WEIGHT: 42 Tons (37,800 kilograms; 83,335 pounds)
ENGINE: 1 x 12-cylinder diesel engine developing 780 horsepower.
SPEED: 43 miles-per-hour (70 kilometers-per-hour)
RANGE: 280 miles (450 kilometers)
Detailing the development and operational history of the DIO Zulfiqar Main Battle Tank (MBT) Combat Vehicle.
Entry last updated on 9/24/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Zulfiqar is a relatively recent main battle tank addition of Iranian design. The design is attributed to Iranian Brigadier General Mir-Younes Masoumzadeh with production being handled by Defense Industries Organization (DIO). Local production of the Zulfiqar is said to be ongoing as of this writing with over 100 examples believed built and bolsters the growing confidence of the Iranian defense industry in the modern world. While its combat capabilities are largely unknown outside of Iran, the Zulfiqar can be considered relatively on par with modern battle tanks of similar scope and design.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has long depended on the purchases of foreign equipment to outfit her army. Until recently, these had come in the form of both American and Soviet-inspired weaponry but have lately given way to indigenously designed systems. Primarily, the Iranian military has utilized its decades of experience in certain weapons and simply applied the knowledge to modernized and suit equipment to meet Iranian military requirements and tactics. Such key recent developments have included the HESA Saeqeh multi-role fighter (based on the American Northrop F-5 Tiger) and the PANHA 2091 Toufan (based on the Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter). The Zulfiqar tank itself is thought to have originated from the American M60 Patton and Soviet T-72 main battle tanks.
The Zulfiqar clearly shows off its running tracks and suspension from previous America designs though, overall, sports a cleaner, low profile turret assembly and Soviet-style main gun. There are six road wheels to a track side with the drive sprocket fitted to the rear of the hull and the track idler at the front. Five track return rollers are identified in the design though these can be covered over in side "skirt" armor for direct protection. Armor protection, as a whole, is thought to be composite in nature while the use of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) is not out of the tank's scope. The Zulfiqar relies on a conventional torsion bar suspension system allowing for competent cross-country travel.
The Zulfiqar is of low profile in design and conventional in its layout. An autoloading system - said to be based on that of the Soviet T-72 series -allows the crew to consist of just three personnel (as opposed to the Western standard of four) with the driver situated at the front center hull and the commander and gunner in the traversing turret. While autoloaders help to reduce crew responsibilities, they are technologically complex systems and generally supply a slower rate-of-fire when compared to traditional manual-loading systems featured in such tanks as the M1 Abrams. The engine is contained in a rear-set compartment to protect the vital system from enemy fire. The turret features angular armor for basic ballistics protection and sports the 125mm smoothbore main gun (a fume extractor is clearly noted along the barrel's midway point). A coaxial 7.62mm machine gun is operated by the gunner alongside the main gun and useful for when the 125mm armament is deemed "overkill". The commander can access an externally-mounted 12.7mm Soviet-style anti-aircraft heavy machine gun while a second, and possibly third, 7.62mm machine gun is mounted along the turret roof. Smoke grenade dischargers are present along the turret sides (or perhaps front panels), straddling either side of the main gun's base.
Power is supplied by an unknown mark of 12-cylinder diesel engine developing 780 horsepower. This allows the tank a purported top speed of 43 miles per hour with an operational range of approximately 280 miles. In keeping with Soviet tank practices, it is not entirely unfounded that external fuel tanks may be affixed to the rear hull of the tank for increased operational ranges (as commonly seen on Soviet/Russian T-72s). The engine is mated to a SPAT 1200 series automatic transmission system featuring six total running gears.
The gunner is afforded a digital fire control system of Slovenian design. The system is adept enough to allow for on-the-move firing as commonly associated with other modern combat tanks, putting her on par with her contemporaries worldwide. NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection and nightvision is assumed as standard for the crew. A laser rangefinder is believed to have been a recent addition to the tank design.
The Zulfiqar has since seen three distinct marks to her lineage known simply as "Zulfiqar "1, "Zulfiqar 2" and "Zulfiqar 3". The Zulfiqar 1 was the initial developmental model appearing in 1994 that brought about the birth of the Zulfiqar family line. At least six prototypes of the type were constructed and extensively evaluated into the late 1990s. The Zulfiqar 2 model was a developmental variant fitting a new engine into a lengthened hull. The Zulfiqar 3 model has evolved into the definitive Zulfiqar to date, fitted with an all-new autoloading system and fire control suite to improve her battlefield lethality.
Currently (2018), the Iranian Army can field up to 150 Zulfiqar 1 MBT models alongside 100 Zulfiqar 3 series models. One prototype was completed of the Zulfiqar 2.
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