T-72Z / Safir-74
The T-72Z (also known as the Type 72Z or Safir 74) is a Iranian upgrade of a number of existing tanks, modified by the Vehicle Industries Group, a member of the state run Defense Industries Organization. The upgrade was designed to extend the service life of T-54, T-55, and Type 59 tanks in Iranian Serivce. These vehicles are not variants of the later Russian T-72 tank.
The T-72Z is fitted with an Iranian produced derivative of the US 105mm M68 gun. The existing 100mm gun has been replaced by a 105mm M68 rifled tank gun in service with Iran on the M60A1 MBT. The Armament Industries Division of the DIO probably makes this weapon because for some years it has had the capability to bore tank and artillery barrels, such as the 122mm Russian D-30. The cannon can launch AT-10/ Bastion ATGMs (to 4000 meters) and fire a broad range of NATO 105mm ammunition.
The 7.62mm co-axial and roof-mounted 12.7mm machine guns have been retained as has the ability to lay a smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust outlet on the left of the hull. In addition, four electrically operated smoke-grenade dischargers have been mounted on each side of the turret.
To improve first-round hit probability, the Type 72Z has a Slovenian Fontana EFCS-3 computerised FCS. According to the manufacturer, installation of the EFCS-3 FCS enables stationary or moving targets to be engaged while the T-72Z MBT is static or moving.
At least one example of the T-72Z has been fitted with a roof-mounted laser warning device, probably coupled to a commander's display and the electrically operated smoke-grenade launchers either side of the turret.
Iranian sources say the upgraded T-72Z is powered by the V-46-6 V-12 diesel engine developing 780hp. This engine has been integrated into a new powerpack, which also includes the SPAT 1200 transmission for use in automatic or semi-automatic modes. The V-46 V-12 diesel engine is also installed in early production T-72 series MBTs, such as the T-72 and T-72A, and Iran could obtain these from various sources besides Russia.
The T-72Z's combat weight is quoted as 36 tonnes, power-to-weight ratio 21.66hp/tonne and maximum road speed is 65km/h. This compares with the T-55 MBT, which has a power-to-weight ratio of 16.11hp/tonne and a maximum road speed of 50km/h.
The Shahid Kolah Dooz Industrial Complex developed an ERA package that could be rapidly fixed to the T-54/ T-55, T-72 and other MBTs to improve battlefield survivability against chemical energy (CE) and kinetic energy (KE) attack. This Iranian ERA package is similar to that being made and marketed by Russia and has been installed on Russian MBTs, such as the T-80BV, for some years.
The Iranian ERA armour system comprises one composite layer. This protects against KE and CE projectiles and an extra energetic material that provides protection against KE attack. Iranian sources said this system could be dropped from a height of 5m, would not be activated from small arms fire up to 30mm in calibre or grenades, and was resistant to napalm type weapons. T-72Z tanks fitted with ERA have side tracks skirts similar to that of the Type 59 tank, whether they were upgraded from that vehicle or not.
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