Last week, Iran unveiled its latest indigenously made main battle tank (MBT), called Tiam, at a ceremony attended by the Iranian Army Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, according to Tasnim News Agency. The new MBT appears to be merging Chinese and U.S. tank designs.
The MBTs hull appears to be that of a M47M Patton, a U.S.-built tank in service with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps during the 1950s and early 1960s. The M47M is an upgraded version of the M47 and, among other modifications, is equipped with a more powerful engine and fire control systems from the M60A1 MBT. Iran produced the tank under license in the 1970s and unveiled a modified version in April 2014 fitted with a L7-type 105 millimeter gun.
“The Tiam also has a 105 mm, but it is mounted in what appears to be the turret from a Chinese Type 59/69 tank. Although based on the T-55, some versions of the Type 59 and Type 69 were armed with an L7-type 105 mm gun instead of the 100 mm fitted to the Soviet tank. The superstructure of the M47M hull appears to have been raised to accommodate the larger turret basket of the Type 59,” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly reports.
The website armyrecognition.com assumes that the 105 millimeter weapon is the M68 105 millimeter rifled gun. The Tiam MBT is also armed with 7.62 millimeter coaxial machine guns and a turret-mounted 12.7 millimeter DShK “Dashka” heavy machine gun. The turret and parts of the hull are layered with reactive armor bricks. Reactive armor is used to defend against the shaped charges of modern anti-tank ammunition.
Iran did not showcase its more modern MBT, dubbed Karrar, a tank purportedly as capable or even superior to the Russian-made T-90 third-generation MBT. Iran’s defense minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, revealed the existence of the new land platform during a press conference in February 2016, noting that the it is “one of the most advanced tanks in the world.” He added, “Karrar is 100 percent Iranian made and it can even be superior than T-90 in some degrees.”
However, Iran revealed a number of other weapons systems on April 13, according to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly:
Also unveiled were a self-propelled 57 mm air defense system called the Bahman and a nuclear, biological, and chemical detection (NBC) vehicle called the Shahram.
The Bahman appeared to consist of a cut-down turret from a Soviet ZSU-57-2 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun mounted on the back of a KrAZ 6×6 truck. The system lowers four hydraulic stabilizers before firing.
The Shahram is a BTR-60 armored personnel carrier fitted with NBC sensors and protection systems.
The Russian company Uralvagonzavod has also put forward a proposal to organize the licensed production of the third-generation T-90s main battle tank in Iran (See: “Will Iran License-build Russia’s T-90S Main Battle Tank?”).