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Main battle tank

Sabalan tank

The Iranian Sabalan is an upgrade version of the American M47M medium tank

Entered service ?
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight ~ 50 t
Length (gun forward) ~ 8.5 m
Hull length ~ 6.5 m
Width ~ 3.6 m
Height ~ 3.3 m
Main gun 105-mm rifled
Machine guns 1 x 7.62-mm
Elevation range ?
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun ?
Machine guns ?
Engine Continental AVDS-1790-2 diesel
Engine power ~ 750 hp
Maximum road speed ~ 50 km/h
Range ~ 500 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step ~ 1 m
Trench ~ 2.2 m
Fording ~ 1.2 m
Fording (with preparation) ?


   In 2014 a new tank was revealed in Iran. It is an upgraded version of the US M47M Patton medium tank. It has a new turret with a 105-mm gun. Also it has new fire control system and a number of other improvements. The new tank is named after a Sabalan mountain.

   The American M47 Patton medium tank was built in large numbers. During the Cold War it was widely exported to US allies. Iran received a number of updated M47M tanks. This version was never used by the United States. It has engine and fire control elements of the M60A1 as well as some other improvements. Iranian tanks saw combat during Iran-Iraq war. Around 400 of these medium tanks were supplied to Iran and almost 170 of them are still operational. It seems that Iran plans to upgrade these ageing tanks to Sabalan standard to keep them combat worthy and in service. Sabalan upgrade costs about one third of the price of the newly-built Zulfiqar 3 MBT. Currently it is unknown how many tanks will be upgraded to Sabalan standard.

   The Sabalan is armed with American M68 105-mm rifled gun. It is based on the British L7 rifled gun, which is widely used around the world. The same gun is used on Iranian M60 tanks. So this gun is likely to be compatible with standard NATO 105-mm tank ammunition. However Iranian sources claim that the gun is smoothbore. It is worth noting that original M47 Patton medium tank was armed with a 90-mm gun. Despite all improvements the 105-mm gun of the Sabalan is no match for modern MBTs, armed with 120-mm or 125-mm guns.

   There is a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun. It is likely that a 12.7-mm machine gun can be fitted.

   Protection of the Sabalan is also rather poor. This new Iranian tank has a new turret, but lacks add-on explosive reactive armor. Side skirts were fitted.

   The Sabalan is fitted with new fire control system. The tank is also fitted with new communication system.

   This tank has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver.

   It seems that this tank uses the same engine of the M60. It is powered by Continental AVDS-1790-2 supercharged diesel.

   Despite all improvements overall performance of the Sabalan should be close to upgraded Soviet T-55 or T-62 tanks or Chinese Type 59. It is undergunned and vulnerable to most anti-tank weapons.


Video of the Sabalan main battle tank

Sabalan tank

Sabalan tank

Sabalan tank

Sabalan tank

Sabalan tank

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