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Al-Zarrar MBT in service with the Pakistan Army
Type Main battle tank
Place of origin Pakistan
Production history
Designer Heavy Industries Taxila
Manufacturer Heavy Industries Taxila
Produced 1990
No. built ~1000+
Weight 40 tonnes
Crew 4

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
Engine Diesel
730 hp
Power/weight 18.3 hp/tonne
Suspension Torsion bar
450 km
Speed 65 km/h

The Al-Zarrar is a modern main battle tank (MBT) developed and manufactured by Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) of Pakistan for the Pakistan Army. An upgraded variant of the Chinese Type 59 tank, the Al-Zarrar is cost-effective modern 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. HIT began mass production of Al-Zarrar on 6 May 2003 under a renowned Project Manager, Engineer Mahmood Khan. First batch of 88 Al-Zarrar were delivered to the Pakistan Army on 26 February 2004. Delivery ceremony was graced by General Pervez Musharraf.


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.

By mid 2004, it was expected that 50 AL-Zarrar tanks would be exported to other countries.[1]


Al-Zarrar MBTs of the Pakistan Army's 27th Cavalry regiment stationed at Kharian.
Al-Zarrar MBTs of the Pakistan Army's 27th Cavalry regiment stationed at Kharian.

Armament and fire-control[edit]

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 stabilization system and thermal imaging sights integrated into the fire-control system for the commander and gunner. The image stabilized fire-control system includes a laser range-finder for accurate range information and ballistics computer to improve accuracy.[citation needed] 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 (540 kW) and torque output of 305 kg.m at 1300–1400 rpm. 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.


In 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.[2][3] A joint venture was formed with Pakistan to upgrade the Type 59/59II tanks to Al-Zarrar MBT standard. Pakistan will transfer the relevant technology to Bangladesh under the joint venture. About 300 tanks are expected to be modernized under the project, which will be carried out in Bangladesh at the Bangladesh Army's 902 Heavy Workshop.[4] No progress on the deal was reported as of 2015.



See also[edit]

Related development
Comparable tanks
Related Lists


External links[edit]

Pictures of Al-Zarrar in service during anti-insurgency operations