Type 72Z

Manufacturer: Defence Industries Organisation (D.I.O.)  
Product type: Armoured Vehicles  
Name: Main battle tank  


The Type 72Z is essentially a Russian T-54/T-55 or Chinese NORINCO (China North Industries Corporation) Type 59 MBT upgraded in the key areas of mobility and firepower by the Shahid Kolah Dooz Industrial Complex of the Tank Modernising Industry.

The existence of the Type 72Z was first revealed late in 1996 by which time it was already in service with the Iranian Army using T-54/T-55 and Type 59 MBTs captured from Iraq as the basis for the upgrade.


The overall layout of the Type 72Z MBT is identical to the Russian T-54/T-55, covered in detail later in this volume, with the main changes being in the power pack, armament and fire control system.

The standard 100 mm rifled gun has been removed and replaced by a Western 105 mm M68 rifled tank gun fitted wi+h a fume extractor and a thermal sleeve.

To improve first round hit probability against stationary and moving targets a Slovenian Fontona EFCS-3 computerised fire-control system has been fitted. This includes an Nd:YAG laser range-finder with a maximum range of 10,000 m and is accurate to plus or minus 5° and a ballistic computer which can be programmed for APDS, HEAT, HESH and APFSDS natures of 105 mm ammunition as well as the 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.

The computer processes information from a number of sensors, including the gunner's laser range-finder and roof-mounted mast met system and gives a hit probability of more than 80 per cent.

The gunner's day sight has a magnification of x10 and a 6° field of view while the second-generation image intensification night sight has a magnification of x7 and a 6° field of view.

Key components of the EFCS-3 include gunner's day/night sight with laser range-finder, gun elevation sensor, met sensor, commander's panel, powder temperature sensor, digital ballistic computer, remote display, gunner's control block kit, gun triggering box, distribution box, servo electronic box and top cover assembly.

According to Iran, the EFCS-3 computerised fire-control system has the following operational advantages:

(1) High hit probability and very low reaction time

(2) Automatic and manual stabilisation and positioning of the gun on the target (within firing gate)

(3) Possibility of engaging stationary and moving targets when the Type 72Z is stationary or moving

(4) Automatic alignment test and correction capability at all ranges as well as independent line of sight

(5) Automatic or manual input of meteorological and ballistic parameters into computer calculations

(6) Software can be programmed for installation in different tanks and with different weapons

(7) Fitted with high-resolution, second-generation night vision device

The 7.62 mm coaxial and 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine guns have been retained and a bank of four electrically operated smoke grenade launchers are mounted either side of the turret firing forwards.

Like most Russian MBTs, the Type 72Z MBT has the ability to lay a smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust outlet on the left side of the hull.

At least one example of the Type 72Z has been fitted with a roof mounted laser warning device which is probably coupled to a commander's display and the electrically operated smoke grenade launchers either side of the turret.

To keep down dust, new track skirts have been fitted as has a new live double pin track with replaceable rubber pads, which allow the Type 72Z to be used on roads without damaging the surface.

The original Russian T-54 is powered by a V-54 V-12 diesel developing 520 hp while the T-55 is powered by the V-55 V-12 diesel developing 580 hp.

Iranian sources state that the upgraded Type 72Z is powered by the V-46-6 V-12 diesel engine developing 780 hp which has been integrated into a new power pack which also includes the SPAT 1200 transmission which can be used in automatic or semi-automatic modes.

The V-46 V-12 diesel engine is also installed in early production T-72 series MBTs (for example T-72 and T-72A) and Iran could obtain these from a variety of sources apart from Russian.

The power pack consists of the engine, transmission and cooling system with the radiators being mounted over the transmission. The gears can be engaged in the automatic or semi-automatic mode. The transmission is designated the SPAT-1200 and includes gearbox, brakes, steering, transfer case and final drives.

Iran has developed an explosive reactive armour system, details of which are given in a separate entry and this could be fitted to the Type 72Z to further improve its survivability on the battlefield.


Production. In service with Iranian Army.

Property Value
Weight (kg)
Power-to-weight ratio (h.p./t)
Length (mm)
Width (mm)
Height (mm)
Track link width (mm)
Length of track on ground (mm)
Max. road speed (km/h)
Fording depth (mm)
Gradient (%)
Side slope (%)
Vertical obstacle (mm)
Trench (mm)
Engine power output (h.p.)
Main weapon caliber (mm)
Auxiliary gun calibre (mm)
AA gun caliber (mm)
Number of smoke grenade launchers
Ammunition of the main gun
Ammunition of the auxiliary gun
Ammunition of AA gun
Traverse arc (degree)
Elevation (degree)
Depression (degree)
Laser range finder

Has folowing part:
Total Amount
V-46-6 (Diesel engine)

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Type 72Z