The global range of the Soviet-era T-72 Main Battle Tank (MBT) made it a tank classic of its time. The series was adopted by many Soviet allies and supported countries, including Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
In search of a local solution to their ongoing armor needs, the Iraqis considered local production of the T-72, dubbed the "Lion of Babylon". The series was launched in the period leading up to the 1991 Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm).
In the mid-1980s, when Iraq was locked in a bloody war with neighboring Iran, with the help of West Germany, a factory was set up in Taji, enabling the local tank company. Various tank products of Soviet origin emerged from this installation - namely the T-55, T-62 and T-72 forms - which helped make the Iraqi army the fourth largest tank in the world.
When the T-72M1 brand came out, the Iraqis were given the means to produce this model, aided by kits shipped from Poland. The Lion of Babylon essentially became an Iraqi copy of the T-72M1, designed to closely mimic its form and function on the battlefield.
The main weapon is the Soviet smoothbore gun 125mm 2A46M strut, plus an autoloader, reducing the crew to three (driver, commander and gunner) and keeping the turret very low profile. Additional weapons are a coaxially mounted standard 7.62mm machine gun and an optional 12.7mm anti-aircraft heavy machine gun mounted on top of the turret. Power is provided by a 780-horsepower V-12 diesel powerplant, with the airframe suspended on a torsion bar system. If external fuel storage is added and road speeds peak at 60 km/h, the operating range will be 600 km.
Armor protection ranges from 45mm to 300mm.
However, the production of this Iraqi tank was hampered by the 1990 UN embargo (following Iraqs invasion of neighbouring Kuwait), as access to the large quantities of spare parts and components needed to complete the tank was limited. All hopes for the Lion of Babylon were all but dashed during the 1991 Gulf War, when the factory was destroyed in a coalition airstrike. Some saw combat in the weeks following the ground war phase of the Gulf War, and the series saw expanded combat service during the subsequent US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 (Operation Iraqi Freedom).
In both campaigns, the tanks underperformed compared to better equipped, trained and experienced Western tanks. The lion's only real value in these wars is in ambushing unsuspecting troops, playing a defensive, covert role, maintaining an advantage even if only for a short time.
After the second Alliance victory in 2003, any surviving members were scrapped or disposed of.
Up to 100 Lions of Babylon tanks may have been supplied to key divisions of Saddam Hussein's army. They ended their days as coaches, goals or trash.
- Tank vs Tank
- Main Battle Tank (MBT)
46 tons (41,500 kg; 91,492 lb)
264 miles (425 km)
1 x 125 mm 2A46M smoothbore main gun in the turret.
1 x 12.7mm DShK anti-aircraft (AA) machine gun on top of turret (optional).
1 x 7.62mm PKT infantry machine gun coaxially mounted in the turret.
There are 12 smoke grenade launchers on the turret.
2,000 x 7.62mm ammo.
12 x Smoke Grenade.
Lion of Babylon - Base Series Name