Military Knowledge: Karrar Main Battle Tank

Wednesday 13 September 2023 - 09:47

Karrar Main Battle Tank (MBT) is a significant upgrade on the T-72 tank currently in use by the Islamic Republic of Iran Armed Forces. This upgrade brings the existing tanks up to the standard equivalent to the T-90MS. The Karrar tank is equipped with various systems, including a laser rangefinder, ballistic computer, automatic loading system, navigation system, communication and digital battlefield management system, as well as electronic warfare countermeasure system.

Due to Iran’s armored requirements and the increasing advancement of anti-armor weapons and armor technology throughout the world, there was a need for a tank at the level of modern tanks in the Islamic Republic of Iran Armed Forces. Despite allocation of limited budget, the armed forces embarked on upgrading the existing T-72S tank. Although in the past, Zulfiqar 1 and 3 tanks had been built as prototypes in the country, they were never widely adopted due to the inability to produce them in large numbers given the country’s budget limit.

The Karrar tank was unveiled on March 12, 2017, in a ceremony attended by the then-Minister of Defense, General Hossein Dehghan. It was emphasized in the ceremony that the production line for the Karrar tank is also located in the Bani Hashem Armor Industrial Complex in Doroud County, Lorestan province. However, the introduction of this tank into service began slowly several years later. The production line was reopened in August 2020, and since then, the delivery process has been faster than before. The operational version of the Karrar tank differs from the unveiled version.

The Karrar tank features a welded and modern turret with a 125mm gun and a remote-controlled 12.7mm machine gun, as well as a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun.

There are 12 smoke grenade launchers with an 81mm caliber on both sides of the turret, with six launchers on each side. The use of smoke grenades on both sides of the tank provides a larger range for creating smoke screens to disrupt laser-guided missiles

12 grenade launchers installed on Karrar

The Karrar tank includes a fire control system that consists of various components such as a muzzle reference system and a weather station. The muzzle reference system consists of two pieces, one at the beginning of the gun and one at the mouth of the gun, which detects the smallest angle of the gun that is not visible to the naked eye. As a result, the accuracy of direct gun fire is greatly increased.

The weather sensors, by performing calculations on variables such as wind speed, humidity, air temperature, etc., increase the accuracy of ballistic shots. The Karrar tank uses a Vaisala WXT536 weather station belonging to a US company.

The Karrar tank uses a day and night vision system in front and back of the tank. This system includes an IR/EO day and night vision camera in the front left window of the driver’s hatch and a day and night vision camera at the back of the tank between the external fuel tanks.

The all-around surveillance system (360-degree periscope) of the commander of the tank is another available system on the Karrar tank. This system includes seven fixed periscope windows installed in the commander’s hatch. The all-around surveillance system provides the ability to install eight periscopes, but one of the positions is occupied by the remote-controlled machine gun base and it has been blinded, so no periscope is installed there.

The Karrar tank utilizes a surveillance and targeting system for the gunner, which is located on the turret of the tank. The two doors of this surveillance system are manually operated and they do not have remote control. In addition, this surveillance and targeting system does not have a washer or snow remover, which is a major weakness. In war conditions, there is a possibility of dirt and snow accumulating on it, which will disrupt the performance of the surveillance and targeting system without a cleaning system.

Karrar tank surveillance and targeting system collection

As it was mentioned before, the main weapon of the Karrar tank is the 2A46 series 125mm cannon, which is the same cannon used in T72 and T90 tanks. This cannon can fire various anti-armor and anti-structure ammunition. It also has the ability to fire laser-guided missiles.
The first version of the Karrar tank contained armor for the cannon, which was located at the connection point of the cannon to the body precisely on the cannon. The mentioned armor provided significant protection for the cannon against post-impact bullet cracks on the body.

The secondary weapon of the Karrar tank is a remote-controlled 12.7mm machine gun. This weapon has its own day and night vision sight and is guided by the tank commander. It is not clear whether this machine gun can be independently guided by the gunner or not, but the possibility of its guidance by the tank gunner is not unlikely.

Remote controlled 12.7 mm machine gun

Armor protection:
In addition to the main armor, the Karrar is also equipped with reactive armor in the front part of the chassis to protect itself. According to the available images, in this section, Karar uses Kontakt-1 reactive armors that are produced in Iran.

Read more: Military Knowledge: Kontakt-1 Explosive Reactive Armour

In this section, the Karrar tank uses 11 separating blades to separate the reactive armor blocks on the front slope of the chassis. In addition to separating the blocks from each other and preventing the transfer of explosive effects to the adjacent blocks, these blades also cause the blocks to be arranged more regularly. Because the effect of explosion of the reactive armor blocks (explosion wave, heat and shrapnel) is more lateral, the separation blades are also placed laterally.

In side protection, the Karrar tank uses armor similar to the Relikt plates. This section is a combination of 5 layers: two middle layers of vulcanized rubber, two steel layers reinforcing the rubber layer and a thicker steel layer, which is the last layer closest to the tank.

In terms of turret protection, the design is very similar to the T-90MS tank. In this section, reactive armors with more resistance and similar to Relikt or Kontakt-5 reactive armor are used. The main difference between the Karrar design and the T-90MS in this section is the dimensions of the reactive armor. These plates are installed on the turret with a steep slope, the thickness of which increases in the end part. The number of blocks used in the Karrar tank turret is 58. 32 blocks are located on the front and side of the turret, which use different dimensions, and 15 blocks are used to cover the side edges of the front slope of the roof and 11 blocks are used to cover the central part of the roof.

The main challenge to fully cover the turret is related to covering the part connecting the gun to the turret, the armor used must be able to move up and down along with the gun. It seems that this part of Karrar tank does not have enough protection.

Karrar tank uses cage armor (or slat armor) in the end parts of the body and turret. These armors cause early activation of the anti-armor missile warhead, and due to the distance they have from the main body and tank armor, it reduces the explosive effect of the missile warhead, which ultimately leads to a decrease in missile penetration. In addition to being cheap, this type of armor is a suitable option for use in areas that are less threatening, i.e. the back of the tank.

In the rear part of the tank chassis, there are two barrel fuel tanks as external fuel tanks. This part of the tank does not have cage armor. The lack of armor in this section is due to three reasons: one is due to the low probability of hitting in open environment battles, and the second reason is the presence of external fuel tanks itself on Karrar, which does not allow the installation of cage armor, and the third reason is the possibility of cage armor hitting the ground and causing damages.

It would have been better to install flexible cage armors based on the T72B3 tank. These armors can be moved in the presence of external fuel tanks, and when the fuel tanks are not installed, they provide the required protection for the tank. It is also possible to use armors that are flexible and do not have the problem of hitting the ground by modeling the cage armor of the Challenger-2 tank.

One of the weaknesses of the T-72 series tanks, which is caused by its initial design, is the poor protection of the bottom part of the tank chassis. This issue still exists in the main chassis of the Karrar tank and no action has been taken to fix it. This issue becomes more important when we know that the tank’s main ammunition is stored in the floor of the chassis by means of the automatic loading system and in case of a mine explosion, the probability of the explosion of these ammunition is also very high. To fix this defect, this part can be strengthened by adding resistant and anti-shock plates in the front and lower parts, which are more sensitive.

The bottom of the Karrar tank chassis, which does not have additional armor

Protection system:
Karrar tank uses a protection system with Soft Kill mechanism. This system, which is equipped with a laser beam detector and an infrared disruptor, includes four modules, in such a way that two modules are placed in the front part of the turret and two modules are placed in the rear part of the turret, and each one covers a specific angle.

The laser beam detector used in the protection system module reacts to the radiation of the laser beam from the guidance system and to the laser beam of the range finder system and warns the crew. When the crew received the warning, they threw smoke grenades and created a smoke screen, causing disruption of the laser beam reflection from the tank body.

The infrared disruptor used in the protection system module has a COB (Chip On Board) lamp with a 17×17 array. This system, by imitating xenon light radiation or thermal illuminator used at the end of anti-armor missiles, causes errors in missile guidance by the missile guidance system.
This infrared disruptor has a general field of view of 60 degrees, a near infrared emission wavelength (Near IR), a preparation time of 60 seconds, a working continuity of up to 6 hours, a lifetime of 800 working cycles (each cycle includes 6 hours of work and one hour of shutdown), the power consumption is less than 80 watts and the working temperature is -20 to +55 degrees Celsius.

This system is presented to disrupt the performance of missiles such as TOW and M47 Dragon or second generation armored missiles in general, but it will also be effective against missiles such as 9K111 Fagot, 9M113 Konkurs, etc. by making modifications.

Karrar tank Soft Kill protection system

Engine power and mobility:
The maximum possible weight of the Karrar tank is stated to be 48.5 tons, and according to the evidence of the use of an engine with a power of 1000 horsepower on the tank, the ratio of power to weight of this tank is 20.6 horsepower per ton, as a result we see an increase in the mobility of the Karrar compared to the T72-S version.

The type of Karrar tank engine has not been announced, but considering its 1000 horsepower and the fact that the T-90A model uses a V-92 engine with 1000 horsepower. It can be assumed that the Karrar tank engine is the same V-92 that was imported through Russia.

Karrar tank specifications:
Type: Main Battle Tank
Produced: Since March 12, 2017
Manufacturer: Bani Hashem Armor Industrial Complex
Origin: Iran
Length: 6.8 meters (hull) – 9.53 meters (with gun)
Width: 3.6 meters
Height: 2.23 meters (without remote-controlled gun)
Mass: 46 to 48.5 tons (exact weight not announced)
Crew: 3 (driver, commander and gunner)
Engine: Enhanced engine with 1000 horsepower
Speed: 60-70 km/h
Operational range: 550 km (plus with 200-280 km more from fuel tank)
Main armament: 125 mm 2A46M/M-2/M-5 smoothbore gun with stabilizer
Secondary armament: Coaxial 7.62mm machine gun and a remotely controlled 12.7mm machine gun / 14.5mm machine gun

Karrar Main Battle Tank – click to view full size image

More images of Karrar tank:

Infographics of Karrar tank in Russian(Каррар танк), Arabic, Hebrew(טנק קאראר), Azeri(Kərrar Tankı) and Farsi(تانک کرار):

کرار” نخستین تانک پیشرفته ایرانی رونمایی شد + ویژگی‌ها و تصاویر
مشخصات فنی تانک کرار که وزیر دفاع رونمایی کرد/تولید یکی از پیشرفته‌ترین تانک‌های دنیا
تانک کرار

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