On the surface, Karra tanks look like T-90MS up to 90%, from turret layout to automatic machine gun placement.

Introduce

Iran intends to purchase a large amount of Russian-made weapons and military equipment after the sanctions imposed on the country expire. Surprisingly, there are no T-90s on this list, as they already have Karrar tanks.

Some Iranian military experts are confident that the Karrar tank is among the most modern tanks in the world, able to fully meet the needs of the Iranian armed forces.

In addition to China, Iran is also considered a “reverse engineering” expert, also known as copying weapons technology of other countries. Many experts believe that Iran’s new Karrar tank has many similarities with Russia’s T-90MS.

In the past, Iran had studied American F5 light fighters to create domestic versions, they also successfully built missile versions from Soviet and Korean, so it is likely that their latest Karrar tank could be an upgrade from the T-72 tank, or perhaps it is a copy of Russia’s modern T-90MS.

The main battle tank was showcased to the public for the first time in August 2016. The Defence Ministry of Iran launched the production line of the Karrar MBT at the Bani-Hashem Armor Industrial Complex to facilitate mass production of the vehicles, in March 2017.

The tank has undergone rigorous tests by the Iran Army and been declared combat-ready by the army in November 2017. Deliveries of the MBT were scheduled to begin in 2018.

Karrar Tank
Karrar Tank

Design

On the surface, Karra tanks look like T-90MS up to 90%, from turret layout to automatic machine gun placement. However, one thing is certain: the Karrar tank is unlikely to be as good as the Russian version of the T-90MS. The hull is majorly divided into three compartments, with the driver’s cab at the forward, turret in the centre and power pack at the rear.

The new Iranian-made main battle tank possesses a modern electro-optical fire control system, a laser rangefinder, ballistic computer and could fire at both stable and mobile targets in day or night. It features an advanced battlefield management system (BMS) supported by digital panels fitted inside the hull. The battlefield management system integrates data from the sensor systems, other tanks, and digital maps.

The Karrar is fitted with a new welded turret which is armed with a 125 mm smoothbore gun. A remotely operated weapon station armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun is mounted on the roof of the turret. The main gun is able to fire anti-tank laser-guided missiles. An autoloader is also installed, removing the need of a loader.

The Karrar is supposedly fitted with latest generation of composite armor, with explosive reactive armor panels mounted on the front of the hull and turret. There is also armour plates on the sides and slat armour at the rear of the hull and turret.

The vehicle is also fitted with advanced observation systems aided by a rear-mounted digital camera near the periscope.

Other standard equipment aboard the vehicle includes a ballistic computer, a nuclear, biological and chemical protection system, and LED headlights.

Powerplant

The Karrar main battle tank is powered by a rear-mounted diesel engine with a rated power output of  up to 1,200hp. The tank has the ability to travel at a maximum speed of 70km/h, while the maximum operational range of the vehicle is 550km.

The torsion bar suspension each side consists of six road wheels with the idler at the front, drive sprocket at the rear and three return rollers supporting the inside of the track only. To increase the operational range of the tank, two 200 litre diesel fuel drum can be added at the rear of the hull.

This tank is operated by a crew of 3, including commander, gunner and driver. The tank is fitted with a built-in blade for self-entrenching. Vehicle can prepare itself a defensive emplacement without the help of other military engineer vehicles.

Potential

So far Iran hopes to build 800 of the tanks to bolster its armed forces, while at the same time Iran claims that its expanding arsenal of weapons does not make it a threat to its neighbors.

The tank, like Iran’s claims of having build a fighter jet and new ships, may end up being merely a bad copy of a foreign weapon system. Iran has shown in the past that while it has impressive achievements in ballistic missiles and missile technology, that larger weapons platforms built domestically face many hurdles. Iran also has been unable to test these systems against an opponent since it is unwilling to confront the US, it’s main enemy, on the battle field, and its other enemies consist of terrorist groups such as ISIS.

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