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Pakistani Al Zarrar Tank
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Al Zarrar Tank

Pakistani Al Zarrar Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
Pakistani Al Zarrar Tank
In Service
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The Al Zarrar Tank is an upgraded version of the Chinese Type 59 Tank in service with the Pakistani Army. Developed in Pakistan, the vehicle has an improved main gun, Fire Control Systems, added protection and increased mobility.

A number of prototypes from its development have been displayed at defence expo’s with and without Explosive Reactive Armor.

The Al Zarrar Tank has been in service with the Pakistani Army since 2004.


Pakistan has operated the Type 59 since the 1970’s and is currently the largest exported operator of the tank. Pakistan started a program for a series of upgrades during the early 1990’s. In 1993 a new 105mm rifled main gun was installed with stabilization and a new computerised Fire Control System, which is refereed to as Phase I.

Phase II upgrades started in 1998. It saw the installation of a new more powerful engine and thermal imaging sights.

Phase III saw the testing and trialling of 3 prototypes of different, engine, suspension, main gun and armor configurations. Prototype 3 was the eventual configuration selected for the final Al Zarrar upgrade.


Pakistan has a number of tanks in service from both China (licence production/upgrades) and Ukraine with 125mm smoothbore main guns. The Al Zarrar uses the same 125mm smoothbore as the Type 85 Tank in service with Pakistan and is fully stabilized.

It can fire a range of armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS), high explosive anti-tank fin-stabilised warheads (HEAT-FS), HE-FS and anti-tank guided missile rounds. This includes the 125mm Naiza, a Depleted Uranium APFSDS round developed by Pakistan.

The Al Zarrar does not use a fully automatic loading system, but rather a semi-automatic system retaining a 4 man crew. It has a modern computerised Fire Control System with Thermal sights and day channels.


On first inspection the Al Zarrar looks like it has a new turret. This is incorrect. The original Type 59 Turret is retained, but elevated and fitted with a new modular system. It has flat vertical surfaces that Explosive Reactive Armor can be attached too. In addition a second module mount with ERA can be added to the turret front.

The front of the hull has a new modular armor mounted on the upper glacis, which ERA can be added too.

It’s not clear if the new modular armor has some form of composite or laminate armor inserts. Pictures of a destroyed Al Zarrar show an exposed void between the modules and the original cast domed turret. All this modular armor acts as spaced armor against RPG and HEAT round attack.

Other protection sub-systems include NBC protection and the LTS-1 laser warning system, developed by Al Technique Corporation (ATCOP). A fire detection/suppression is installed as well as Smoke Grenade Launchers.


The original Type 59 and Phase II engine has been replaced with a larger VR-36 series 730hp Diesel used in other Pakistani Type 85 tanks. The larger engine has required modifications to the engine bay. The exhaust has been moved to the right side of the hull in a new raised housing with x2 round vents.

A new torsion bar suspension was added to accommodate the increased weight and horsepower.

The tank has retained its original Type 59 road wheels but added new tracks with rubber pads.


Main Gun
125mm, Smoothbore
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun, commanders 50 cal machine gun
Ammunition Storage
VR-36 series 730hp Diesel
Top Road Speed
50 km/h
Road Range
580 km
Fuel Capacity
Vertical Obstacle
Water Capability
Trench Crossing
Side Slope
Length Gun Forward
Length Hull
Ground Clearance
37 tonne combat
NBC Protected
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel, Spaced, Modular, Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA)
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Active Protection Systems
Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver