Commander of the Iranian Army Ground Force Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said the Army plans to unveil an optimized version of the home-made Zolfaqar tank in the near future. "The tank's fire control system and stabilizer have been optimized and it will be unveiled by the next two weeks," Pourdastan told reporters in Tehran.
He said the new version of Zolfaqar has gone under comparison with one of the most advanced battle tanks manufactured by the Eastern powers and has shown increasingly higher capabilities.
Iran will start mass-production of the tank after the approval of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, the Army Ground Force Commander said.
Pourdastan had earlier said that Iran continued optimizing Zolfaqar tanks in a bid to upgrade its capabilities against modern threats.
"Each day we work on a newer version of Zolfaqar tanks so that the tank could maintain its efficiency in the battlefield and ground defense," Pourdastan told FNA in September.
"We certainly make changes in Zolfaqar tanks in accordance to threats and prepare it and make it an advanced tank in accordance with our battleground needs."
Zolfaqar is a second generation of Iran's main battle tank (MBT). The test prototypes of the tank were evaluated in 1993. Six semi-industrial prototypes of the tank were produced and tested in 1997. The tank has a distinctive box-shaped, steel-welded turret of local design. Zolfaqar combat weight is reported to be 36 tons and has a 780 hp diesel engine; the tank has a 21.7 hp per ton ratio.
Zolfaqar is operated by a crew of three personnel. The automatic loader is believed to be the same one from the T-72 tank.
The Zolfaqar-1 uses a fire control system which enjoys a 'fire-on-the-move' technology. The Zolfaqar mounts a laser-warning pod on the turret. Its design enables the tank to use an Iranian-made package of reactive armor.
Zolfaqar-2 is a prototype tank used as a test bed. The Zolfaqar-3 also features considerable upgrades to the fire control system, chassis, engine and main gun, with a 125mm autoloader.