(or Zolfaqar) is a second generation Iranian main battle tank (MBT), conceived by Brigadier General Mir-Younes Masoumzadeh, deputy ground force commander for research and self-sufficiency of the armed forces. It is named after Zulfiqar, a legendary sword. The test prototypes of the tank were evaluated in 1993. Six semi-industrial prototypes of the tank were produced and tested in 1997.
The tank is armed with a 125 mm smoothbore gun 2A46 derived from the T-72, which is fitted with a fume extractor and may be fed by an automatic loader. The suspension is modelled on the M48 / M60 Patton tanks supplied to Iran by the U.S. The tank has a distinctive box-shaped turret. It weighs in at 40 tonnes and has a 1,500 hp diesel engine (1.000 hp diesel used in Zulfiqar 1&2). For the Zulfiqar/T-72 fleet, the Ammunition Group of the Iranian Defense Industries Organization mass produces a standard high explosive 23 kilograms (51 lb) propellant charge which fires the 3 kg warhead at a muzzle velocity of 850 metres per second (2,800 ft/s). The Zulfiqar-1 uses the Slovenian EFCS-3 fire control system, the same model used on the Type 72Z ("Safir-74"), providing 'fire-on-the-move' technology.
The Iranian tanks are also using, Laser targeting system, Night vision system and several other offensive and defensive systems.
In April 1997 Acting Commander of the Ground Forces of the Iranian Army, Lieutenant General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani announced that the mass production of Zulfiqar tanks, which began in 1996, was still in progress. He stated that the manufacture of 520 different kinds of tank parts, 600 artillery parts, repair of 500 tanks and armored vehicles have been carried out. In late July 1997 Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani formally inaugurated a production line for the domestically manufactured Zulfiqar main battle tanks and Boragh tracked armoured personnel carrier. The facility, the Shahid Kolah Dooz Industrial Complex, will also produce the BMP-2 armored personnel carrier.
The most advanced of these, the Zulfiqar-3, is based on earlier American tanks, primarily M-48/M60 models acquired under the pre-revolution era. The Zulfiqar-3 also features considerable upgrades to the fire control system, chassis, engine and main gun, with a 125mm autoloader. The Zulfiqar-1 is reportedly in service with certain elements of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (Pasdaran) and the Zulfiqar-2 is reportedly a test bed for future designs and upgrades. The Zulfiqar-3 is believed to have recently entered serial production.
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