When comes to battle tank, American-made M1 Abrams tank is always compared to Russian-made T-90. In terms of weight, 63-metric tons M1 Abrams is definitely a heavyweight against the lighter 48-tons T-90. Unless the U.S. goes to war with Russia, which is highly unlikely, we’ll never know which tank is superior.
While America’s sophisticated MI Abrams comes with lots of bells and whistles, Russia’s T-90 is simpler and effective. Sure, the American tanks are mighty but the Russian’s are deadly. It was like comparing American’s M16 assault rifles and now-defunct Soviet’s AK-47. Besides ease of use and low production costs, the AK-47’s reliability is a legend.
The Russian T-90 tank is a hybrid evolution of the T-72 and T-80. Essentially, it was developed using the best of breed – combining reliable and proven chassis of the T-72 with the more advanced turret of the T-80. And like its legendary AK-47, T-90 is easy to operate, effective and reliable, not to mention much cheaper to produce.
China has been mocked and laughed for ripping off America and Russia fighter jets. But there’s one great copycat few people talk about until last Sunday, when Iran publicly launched its own tank – Karrar. If Israel’s concern is an indicator, Iran is the most powerful and dangerous nation in the Middle East that could send Israel or Saudi Arabia to oblivion.
Last year, Iran self-proclaimed that the country was developing one of the most advanced tanks in the world. Hossein Dehghan, the defence minister, claimed the Karrar tank and is 100% Iranian-made and to a certain extent, is even superior to Russian’s T-90. Last Sunday, when Iran revealed the final version of Karrar, the tank looks exactly like Russian-made T-90MS.
Iranian media announced that the country has begun mass production of the Karrar tank. However, it’s doubtful Iran can build a T-90 to the same specifications as the Russian version. Initially, Iran planned to buy Russian T-90MS tanks, and there were several meetings between Russian and Iranian about licensing the T-90 tank technology.
Negotiations failed, unfortunately, and Tehran said they would “design, develop and build” their own tanks instead. The funny part was when Iran launched its look-alike T-90 tank last Sunday, they made it a point to clarify – again – that Karrar wasn’t developed from Russian technology. Assuming the Iranians were telling the truth, was it really 100% local-made?
The Iranian military has an arsenal of at least 500 units of Russian T-72 tanks currently in service. They also build their own tanks such as the “Zulfiqar 3”, which was developed from major components of the Soviet T-72 and American M48 and M60 tanks. Zulfiqar tanks’ gun, transmission and engine, laser targeting system were all ripped off from both countries.
Therefore, it’s safe to assume Iranian’s latest Karrar tanks are nothing but another round of copycat version of T-90, of which the platform is based on T-72. For all you know, the Karrar (“Striker” in Farsi) could be merely existing T-72 dressed up like T-90. But why would Iran do such a marketing gimmick? One word – propaganda.
It’s hard to believe that Iran could design and prototype a new Karrar tank from the scratch within 1-year since the collapse of a negotiation to purchase Russian T-90MS tanks. Interestingly, Iranian government-controlled media claims its world-class tank has been 3 years in the making. If that was true, why even talked about acquiring Russian tanks in the first place?
This is not the first time Iran bulls about building super weapons. Copycat China at least builds warplanes that actually fly. When Iran announced in 2013 of its so-called stealth fighter jet “Qaher F-313”, it raised millions of eyebrows until it was discovered to be a hoax. Qaher had a seat so tiny and the cockpit looked too small to be real and functional, not to mention the jet didn’t have engine nozzles.
Iran had also showing off its S-300 despite Russia’s inability to deliver the surface-to-air missile system due to backorder. So, what did the Shia / Shiite Islamic State Iran do during their 2010 Army Day Parade? Creatively, they welded 55-gallon oil drums together and painted them to resemble S-300 launchers.
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