Al-Zarrar MBT in service with the Pakistan Army
|Type||Main battle tank|
|Place of origin|| China|
|Designer||Heavy Industries Taxila|
|Manufacturer||Heavy Industries Taxila|
|Armor|| Modular composite armour|
Explosive reactive armour
|125 mm smoothbore gun|
| 12.7 mm external anti-aircraft machine gun|
7.62 mm coaxial machine gun
A re-built, upgraded variant of the Chinese Type 59 tank, Al-Zarrar is supposed to be a cost-effective replacement for the Type 59 fleet of the Pakistan Army. Equipped with modern armament, fire control and ballistic protection, the Al-Zarrar upgrade is also offered by HIT to the armies of foreign countries to upgrade their T-54/T-55 or Type 59 tanks to Al-Zarrar standard. 54 modifications made to the Type 59 make the Al-Zarrar effectively a new tank.
The Al-Zarrar development programme started in 1990 and the first batch of 80 upgraded tanks were delivered to the Pakistan Army on 26 February 2004.
It was decided by the Pakistan Army that their inventory of Chinese origin Type 59 tanks was too large to be discarded and replaced, so a phased upgrade programme was started by Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) in 1990. The idea was to upgrade the firepower, mobility and protection of the Type 59 to allow it to compete on the modern battlefield at a fraction of the cost of a modern main battle tank (MBT). The first phase of the upgrade programme was completed in 1997. The second phase started in 1998 when HIT began development and testing of a new tank, a Type 59 re-built with over 50 modifications, resulting in three prototypes with slightly differing specifications (different fire-control systems, for example). Many systems originally developed for HIT's Al-Khalid MBT were incorporated. The prototypes underwent extensive testing by HIT and the Pakistan Army, who selected the final version of the tank, dubbed Al-Zarrar. HIT began full production of Al-Zarrar in 2003.
Armament and fire-controlEdit
Al-Zarrar's primary armament is a 125 mm smoothbore tank gun with an autofrettaged, chrome-plated gun barrel. It is capable of firing APFSDS, HEAT-FS and HE-FS rounds as well as anti-tank guided missiles and a Pakistani DU (depleted uranium) round, the 125 mm Naiza. Naiza is capable of penetrating 550 mm of RHA armour at a distance of 2 km. Reloaded by a semi-automatic autoloader, the gun has a dual-axis stabilisation system and thermal imaging sights for the commander and gunner. integrated into the fire-control system. The image stabilised fire-control system includes a laser range-finder for accurate range information and ballistics computer to improve accuracy. An improved gun control system is also fitted.
The secondary armament consists of an external 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on the roof of the turret, which can be aimed and fired from inside the tank, and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.
The Al-Zarrar is powered by a liquid-cooled 12 cylinder diesel engine, giving a power output of 730 hp and torque output of 305 kg.m at 1300-1400rpm. A combat weight of 40 tonnes gives Al-Zarrar a power to weight ratio of 18.3 hp/tonne and a top speed of 65 km/h. Crew comfort is improved over the Type 59 by a modified torsion bar suspension system.
Al-Zarrar uses modular composite armour and explosive reactive armour to give improved protection from anti-tank missiles, mines and other weapons. The Pakistani ATCOP LTS-1 laser threat warning system is fitted to inform the tank crew if the tank is targeted by a laser range-finder or laser designator. Smoke grenade launchers are fitted to the sides of the turret. An automatic fire-extinguishing and explosion suppression system is installed to improve crew survivability.
On 21 October 2008, the chief of the Bangladesh Army met his Pakistani counterpart to discuss a programme to modernise Bangladesh's fleet of Type 59 tanks. Bangladesh intends to upgrade 300 of its Type 59 tanks to Al-Zarrar standard at the Bangladesh Army's 902 Heavy Workshop, making that country the first export customer of the Al-Zarrar.
- Related development
- Comparable tanks
- Related Lists
- Heavy Metal - Pakistani AFVs, by Usman Ansari
- Pakistan Military Consortium - Al-Zarrar factsheet
- Al-Zarrar Main Battle Tank at Bangladesh Military Forces website
- GlobalSecurity.org - Pakistan Army gets first consignment of 80 Chinese-origin tanks
- Pictures of Al-Zarrar in service during anti-insurgency operations
- Al-Zarrar in service in Swat, Pakistan.
- An Al-Zarrar believed to have been destroyed during anti-insurgency operations in Swat, Pakistan.
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