Type 72Z is also known as Safir-74. Ten were exported to Sudan in 2006 under the local designation Al-Zubair I.
The Iranian military currently possesses 2,000-3,000 relatively modern tanks. According to US intelligence, the backbone of Iran’s armored forces is the Soviet T-72S tank units. However, Tehran has made a lot of efforts to upgrade and improve their power over the original version. In addition, Iran has also developed and upgraded many powerful and powerful domestic battle tanks based on imported tank models and suitable for available technology.
Although bearing the same designation as modern Soviet and Russian tanks, Iran’s T-72Z is just an upgraded variant of the T-54/55 and Type-59 tanks. The firepower of this tank is upgraded to the standard 105mm M68 rifled tank gun with the ability to fire missiles through the main barrel. Type 72Z is also known as Safir-74. Ten were exported to Sudan in 2006 under the local designation Al-Zubair I.
The Type 72Z was first announced by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in 1996. About 400 units were produced. The main upgrade on the Safir-74 is its main gun. The outdated 100-mm gun of the T-55/Type 59 was replaced with an Iranian-produced derivative of the 105mm M68 gun, capable of firing 9M117 Bastion anti-tank guided missiles as well as NATO standard ammunition.
The Slovenian Fotona Electronic Fire Control System (EFCS-3-55) was added, with automatic and manual gun stabilizers, a laser rangefinder, second-generation night sights, a ballistic computer, and an independent viewer and target designation system for the commander.Electric smoke grenade dischargers were also added to provide concealment on top of the existing ability to create a smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into the left exhaust outlet.
The secondary armament comprises a co-axial 7.62 mm light MG and the usual roof-mounted 12.7 mm DSHK heavy machine gun. The protection of Safir-74 is greatly upgraded, both passive and active. The welded add-on armor on the glacis and sides, and rubber side skirts panels against RPG hits. The active protection formed by about 60 ERA (Explosive Reactive Armour) blocks around the hull glacis front, upper sides, and turret.
The T-54/T-55’s standard engine was replaced by the Ukrainian-built V-46 diesel engine producing 780hp, allowing the tank a top speed of 65km/h and 440km operating range. The engine is mated to a(n also Ukrainian-built) SPAT-1200 transmission, with the whole powerpack integrated into a single unit for easier field replacement.
So far, Sudan is the only foreign customer of this model. Some are locally assembled by the Sudanese Military Industry Corporation – MIC under the local designation AL-ZUBAIR 1. A similar model was also produced under the designation Al-Zubair II based on the Type-59D.