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The T-72S version is an export version of the Russian T-72A, modified to a T-72B/BM standard. Although similar to the T-72BM, there was potentially less turret front protection. The early T-72S tank was fitted with the Russian Kontakt ERA. Subsequent Iranian T-72S have been fitted with a locally produced version of this ERA produced by the Shahid Kolah Dooz Industrial Complex. The T-72S MBT weighs 44.5 tonnes and is armed with the latest stabilized 125mm smoothbore 2A46M gun, IA40-1 computerised fire-control system (FCS) with laser rangefinder and day/image intensification night sighting system.

As well as firing the normal types of 125mm separate-loading ammunition (projectile and charge), the T-72S can also fire a Svir 9M119 (NATO designation AT-11 'Sniper') laser beam-riding guided projectile to a range of 4,000m. The T-72S is powered by the V-84MS diesel engine, which develops 840hp and, with a combat weight of 44.5 tonnes, a power-to-weight ratio of 18.87hp/tonne is obtained. For greater cross-country mobility, the suspension has also been upgraded and mine protection improved.

Iran signed a deal with Russia on 13 November 1991 for the construction for production licenses and the contruction of facilities for the production of the T-72S and BMP-2. Between 1991 and 1996 over 100 complete T-72S were also provided straight from the Russian factory, while the Iranian facilities were being built. The Iranian facility at Dorud was completed by 1997, and production of the T-72S began on 8 July 1997. The facility is managed by Iran's Vehicle Industries Group, a member of the state run Defense Industries Organization. The first Iranian produced T-72S entered into service in July 1998. These tanks remained in service through 2008.

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