Type: Main Battle Tank.

Designed: 1990.

Built Upon: Type 59 tank.

Designer: Heavy Industries Taxila.

Number built: 700.

Operator: Pakistan Army.

Weight: 44 tons.

Length: 31.17 ft.

Width: 10.83 ft.

Height: 8.20 ft.

Crew: 4 crew members.

Caliber: 125 mm smoothbore.

Armor: Modular composite armor over hardened steel body and Explosive reactive armor.

Main armament: 125mm smoothbore ammunition.

Secondary armament: 12.7 mm external machine gun / 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.

Defense: 8x smoke/flare grade dischargers.

Engine: 1xKMDB 12-cylinder liquid cooled diesel 730 HP/

Suspension: High-hardness-steel torsion bar.

Operational range: 450 km.

Speed: 65 km/h.

NBC protection: Shielded.

Optics: Thermal Imaging (G) / Passive IR (D, C) / Image Intensification (G, C).

The Al-Zarrar is a second-generation main battle tank (MBT), currently in the services of the Pakistan Army. The tank is named Al-Zarrar, which means “main striker” in Arabic and Persian languages.

Developed with Ukrainian assistance and manufactured by the Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) the Al-Zarrar features a 125 mm smoothbore gun as its primary weapon. The tank can achieve a maximum speed of 65 km (40 mi) per hour, weighs around 44 tons and has a four-man crew: commander, gunner, loader, and driver.

Al-Zarrar Main Battle Tank of Pakistan Army
Al-Zarrar Main Battle Tank of Pakistan Army


The Pakistani military have long been users of the Chinese ZTZ-59 tank, being aware that the ZTZ-59s were obsolete against modern tanks and not keeping up with Indian tanks a replacement program is needed. There were, however, too many of ZTZ-59 to simply scrap away. So in early 1990s Pakistan military got together with a few foreign armament firms in a bid to modernize their ZTZ-59s enough to be able to face against more modern enemy tanks and have a good probability chance to come out on the winning end of a fight. It would essentially give the Pakistan Army a modern tank at a fraction of the cost (though the upgrade program ended up costing more than originally thought). The development program started in 1990 and now around 500 of Pakistan’s ZTZ-59s have been upgraded to the Al-Zarrar standard. Virtually every area of the Type 59 is upgraded enough so that the Al-Zarrar is now essentially a new tank in an old tank’s skeleton. Improvements have been made to the key areas of armor protection, firepower, fire control, suspension, and mobility.

Armament and Firepower

Al-Zarrar’s primary armament is a 125 mm smoothbore tank gun with an autofrettaged, chrome-plated gun barrel coupled with a modern fire control system built in Pakistan with the assistance of Krauss-Maffei of Germany. It is capable of firing APFSDS, HEAT-FS and HE-FS rounds as well as anti-tank guided missiles.

The Auto loaded main gun is fully stabilized (dual-axis stabilization system) with thermal imaging for the gunner that is accessible to the commander. The main gun also has a laser rangefinder, a ballistic computer, and a monitor to help the gunner search for targets and give him information about targets and the state of the main gun and its ranging components. The gunner’s hatch has vision blocks around it that give 180-degree vision (front, rear, and right side).

The commander has, in addition to thermal imager access (Thermal imager of gunner), his own IR vision and an image intensifier. The driver, on the front right side, has vision blocks that allow frontal vision and vision to both sides; one of these vision blocks can be removed and replaced by an IR vision block. The commander has an NSVT machinegun mounted on his cupola; this machine gun can be aimed and fired from under armor The overall secondary armament consists of an external 12.7 mm machine gun mounted on the roof of the turret and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.

Mobility and Speed

The Al-Zarrar is powered by a liquid-cooled 12-cylinder diesel engine, giving a power output of 730 HP (540 kW) and torque output of 305 kg. M at 1300–1400 rpm. A combat weight of 44 tons gives Al-Zarrar a power-to-weight ratio of 18.3 hp/ton and a top speed of 65 km/h. Crew comfort is improved over by a modified torsion bar suspension system. The transmission of the older ZTZ-59 was upgraded for the new engine and is semi-automatic. The suspension is improved with wider tracks, improved road wheels and drive sprockets, and better shock absorption through a modified torsion bar system. Though the Al-Zarrar retains the ability to mount reserve tanks at the rear, in practice, they are considered a combat hazard and are normally either not carried or jettisoned before battle.

Protection and Defense Systems

Al-Zarrar uses modular composite armor (Placed over the older Hardened steel armor) and explosive reactive armor to give improved protection from anti-tank missiles, Anti-tank mines and other weapons.

The Al-Zarrar was originally to use a large amount of appliqué armor, but this was replaced in development with a modular armor suite, including new composite armor on sides, turret, and front. The floor armor has been dramatically increased as well. Lugs for ERA are found on the glacis, hull sides, turret front, turret sides, and the forward part of the turret roof. A Pakistani-designed laser threat warning system is also fitted; this lets the crew know if they are being targeted by laser designators and automatically fires smoke grenades to block the laser designation beam; 5 smoke grenade launchers are found on each side of the turret. Both the ammo bins and the crew compartments have automatic explosion and fire suppression systems. NBC protection sub-systems are also installed to improve crew survivability. The floor armor of the Al-Zarrar is AV-8.

Read our article: Salient Features of Pakistan Army’s VT-4 MBT.

URL: https://pakstrategic.com/2020/09/23/salient-features-of-pakistan-armys-vt-4-mbt/




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