- Somewhere else (please explain where)
- I don’t want to see this vehicle
- Tech Tree
- I don’t want to see this vehicle
The Asad Bābil, or Lion of Babylon, is an Iraqi assembled T-72M1, developed in the late 80s. It is an otherwise unchanged T-72M1, with minor alterations.
The Lion of Babylon project was started by the Iraqis in response to the 1984 US arms and materials embargo. It utilized a factory in Taji, originally built for steel manufacturing and later refitted to work on tanks. This factory was used to retrofit and/or rebuild tanks present in the Iraqi army, such as the T-55, T-62 and T-72. In an effort to produce tanks locally, the factory was slated to be upgraded by the Polish state-owned company Bumar-Łabędy, but was destroyed in an airstrike in 1991 while in the process of being upgraded. A single tank was shown at an arms show in 1988, with production to begin in 1989. The UN embargo imposed on the country in 1990, following the Invasion of Kuwait, meant that the factory in Taji was reduced to making spare parts, and it is unknown how many, if any, Lions were completed between 1988 and the 1990 embargo. Besides the prototypes, Russia claims that 100 were completed, while Poland claims that none were completed.
The tanks would see combat in the 1991 Gulf War, equipping the Republican Guard divisions and the Saladin division. They accounted for 2 M2 Bradley kills, and left several damaged, but was “largely ineffectual” against the M1A1 Abrams. In the official Gulf War report, six hits on M1A1s resulted in non-serious damage, and only one M1A1 was damaged enough to require a tow off the battlefield, after it was hit 3 times in the turret. Years later they would turn up again in the 2003 Iraq War, deployed around Baghdad as a last ditch defensive effort. Only one Bradley was damaged this time, and it is unknown if there were improvements made to the tank in the years between the two wars. Notable is an incident where a 120mm HEAT round from an Abrams hit a Lion in the turret at close range, without causing a catastrophic kill.
The Lion of Babylon is a mostly unchanged T-72M1, practically identical to the T-72M1 itself. For this reason, it can be hard to determine if a tank is a locally produced Lion of Babylon, or T-72M1 upgraded/refitted to Lion standard by the Taji factory. In addition, American military intelligence believed some Lions may have been equipped with Belgian-made thermal imagers, likely for the gunner.
Because it is mostly unchanged from the T-72M1, the armor is not the best. It was reinforced by the Iraqis with the addition of a laminated armor plate on the upper glacis and turret front, similar to the later T-72A models. This was a 30mm plate welded onto the front glacis, with a 30mm air gap behind it to dissipate HEAT jets in the hollow space. This spaced armor was the result of testing against captured Chieftain guns from Iran, during and after the Iran-Iraq War.
The tank also featured an electro-optical interference pod of Chinese origin, mounted above the left smoke grenade launchers, opposite the commander cupola.
The EO pod is the coil looking thing on a welded stand.
Another image of it open, provided by someone on the old thread.
If it has a specific name please let me know and I will add it.
These protection features contributed to an unusually high survival rate against ATGMs, with the upper glacis being effective against both TOWs and Hellfires, and surviving near misses with relatively little damage. However, the near misses may have been caused by the EO pod.
Additionally, during the 2003 Iraq War, it was noted by one US Commander that “several” Iraqi T-72s had ERA mounted on them, likely obtained as spare parts from Polish T-72M1s.
2A46M 125mm, using 3BK12M HEATFS, 3OF19 or 3OF26 HE, and 3BM9, 3BM17*, and 3BM22 APFSDS
*export, worse performing 3BM15
7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun
12.7mm NSVT or DShK heavy machine gun
Engine - V-46-6, 780hp
Mass - 41.5t
Power/Weight - 18.8hp/t
Suspension - Torsion bar, some dampers removed to suit desert conditions
Unknown thermal imager*
*Dutch company Delft, and its Belgian subsidiary, were indicted in selling Iraq night vision devices despite the UN arms embargo, and reportedly some were discovered on Iraqi tanks after the Battle of Khafji
I think this tank would make a decent addition to the game, either in the Russian tree due to the basis on the T-72, or the Chinese tree due to the electro-optical pod. In my opinion, it should be an event or squadron vehicle for China, as unlike Russia, China is currently lacking in such vehicles at higher tiers. Iraq also had cooperation with China during this time, with the purchase of ZTZ59, and 69, along with spare parts and general technical expertise. In some ways it could be seen as the analogue to the ZTZ96A (P), as they both have the same or similar EO pods. The overwhelming Russian aspect is something to consider, however, although Russia already has the very similar T-72AV (TURMS-T), and so another T-72 at the same rank may seem filler. The tank would play as the T-72A and T-72M1s do, as the addition of the EO pod is situational at best. The addon armor might be more of a help though.
- Lion of Babylon (tank) | Military Wiki | Fandom
- Atkinson, Rick. Crusade, The untold story of the Persian Gulf War. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993
- Zaloga., Steven J, T-72 Ural vs M1 Abrams, Osprey Publishing, 2009
- Asad Babil MBT
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1991/03/02/dutch-firm-says-it-sent-iraq-night-sight-devices/892d7598-e457-4407-b031-d263be7f736d/ (archive of a news report from 1991)
- Lion of Babylon (T-72M1)
Reposted from a suggestion of mine, here.