Iran has rolled out a domestically manufactured tank as it looks to slash its dependence on Russian imports.
Mass production of the Karrar (Striker) has begun and it has been hailed by Iranian officials as a state-of-the-art vehicle capable of standing up to similar models around the world. The tank was unveiled at a ceremony attended by Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan on Sunday (12 March).
"The tank can compete with the most advanced tanks in the world in the three main areas of power, precision and mobility as well as maintenance and durability in the battleground," Dehghan said during his address to the ceremony, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
He added that the tank is complete with an electro-optical fire control system, laser rangefinder, ballistic computer and can fire at either stable or mobile targets day or night. "Karrar has the capability to fire missiles and precisely guide them [towards the target]," Dehghan said.
He added that the amphibious vehicle can operate through pits, rivers and even underwater.
According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Tehran has been "producing its own weapons and military equipment, including missiles, fighter jets and submarines, for more than two decades."
The tank has drawn comparisons with Russia's T90-MS. "The defence industry designed and built the battle tank from scratch. If not better, it's still as deadly as the Russian T-90," Dehghan claimed in 2016.
The parallels were rejected by Russian media, which claimed that Iran's latest military addition is "no match" for the T-90.
"There is no decades-long tradition of tanks-manufacturing in Iran," retired Major General Vladimir Bogatyrev, chair of the Board of the Russian National Association of Retired Military Officers, was quoted as saying by Sputnik News.
"So, there can be no breakthrough technologies. I'm not sure that the Karrar is close to the T-90 in certain points, from its armor to some specific features," he added.
Tehran had originally planned to procure tanks from Moscow, but eventually opted to develop its own vehicles.
Alongside Russia, Iran has been crucial to the survival of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, highlighting the extent to which the war-torn nation's fate is being decided by international powers.
Tehran's military expansion across the region, including troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria, has set the alarm bells ringing in Israel. In a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "the victory over the terrorism of Isis cannot lead to an upsurge in terrorism by Iran and its proxies."