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Total Slaughter of T-72 Tanks (Lions of Babylon) during Gulf War

T-72 Tanks are No Match of M1 Abrams MBTs of USA

  • Yes

    Votes: 4 36.4%
  • Yes & No Vague - In Between

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  • No

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  • I do not know

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  • I donot Care about the World, we are living in!

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Nov 6, 2013
The Lion of Babylon or Asad Babil (Arabic: اسد بابل) was an Iraqi-built derivative of the Soviet T-72 main battle tank, assembled during the 1980s at a factory near Taji, Iraq


The last operational Lions of Babylon were destroyed by the successive waves of American armored incursions on the Iraqi capital or abandoned by their crews after the fall of Baghdad, several of them without firing a single shot. The derelict tanks were later scrapped by U.S. Army disposal teams or shipped to the United States for target practice and to Copy Designs

Two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the new Iraqi Government acquired dozens of refitted T-72M1s from Hungary, in order to equip an armored brigade. The headquarters of this new Iraqi Army unit is located in Taji, so there may still remain some maintenance facilities from the production of Lions. Some surviving T-72s are used for training, and the experience of Iraqi Army officers and crews with the Lion was one of the reasons behind the choice Hungarian T-72M1s

This project represented an attempt by Saddam Hussein's regime to develop an indigenous tank, triggered in part by the Western embargo against the sale of military vehicles to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. However, such vehicles were a combination of Soviet or Polish tank parts, assembled in Iraq, with an assortment of modifications such as electronics and armor added after production

"Lion of Babylon"

An Asad Babil on display at Fort Hood

Type Main battle tank
Service history
Persian Gulf War, Iraq War
Production history
Produced 1989–1990

And you think T-72s are dangerous when the old monkey model AMX-30s slaughtered them in the Gulf War. The T-72 has proven time and again it is no match for modern armor and that is in essence what the Type 99 is, a modernized T-72. It will end up the same against modern armor as it did against yesterdays armor in the Gulf War...


8 republican guard divisions had them mostly, all told they had about 1,200 of them (rather then the most often quoted 1,000 number) by the time ODS rolled around in 1991. They had T-72B/G/M/M1's version (as well as a handful of Lions of Babylon). All of Iraq's T-72's were export versions and since then the designation have gotten rather confusing with Re-Classifications and what not since now the Soviet internal classifications are known. Iraq also had about 12 M-84's too. I believe most of the tanks Iraq had were manufactured in the USSP but many of them came from Poland and Czechoslovakia as well

The Gulf War (ODS-the first one) happened when I was going into HS. That and Operation Just Cause is what first got me interested as a kid/teenager in knowing the military assets (tanks, Manpower, Air-power, navies) of other countries because I realized how little I knew about it and had no frame of reference to know what was big and what to be worried about

I made several spreadsheets utilizing dozens of sources over the course of 15 years or so what tanks Iraq had and how many from all kinds of open sources in the newspapers, magazines, library, book I bought, the internet, and TV.

If you take a estimate of how many tanks Iraq had: T-54/55's, Type-59's, Type-69's, T-62's, T-72's, and captured M-60's and Chieftain wise and added them each up by type then looked at the total if NEVER came out to the commonly quoted estimated 5,500 MBT's that was most often quoted by the mainstream press-it would always come out much larger. Now, each source had a different number so you could say they had about 6,000 to 7,000 tanks (who knows how much in working order) and put a RANGE on each type. From most sources you could say that Iraq had in its inventory anywhere from 1,000 to 1,600 T-62's which anyway you cut it is a militarily significant number and thus put Iraq in the top 5 in countries with the most T-62 tanks

I got it and verified it from several sources. I had a sheet of paper with all the Iraqi units equipped with T-72's and how many each unit had at the time (around 1993). I managed to get a hold of some after action reports that gave a percentage of enemy tanks that were destroyed by unit, not actual numbers but a attrition percentage. Now I hate math but here is where it came in handy, since I knew how many T-72's were in what unit and knew the percentage destroyed I could multiply, add, and subtract my way to a sum giving me how many were destroyed, damaged, and left intact. At the time the media was sensationalizing the numbers saying we had destroyed around 700 to 800 of them thus claiming Saddam only had around 200 left. After doing my calculations I came out with a more modest number of 400 T-72's captured or destroyed during operation desert storm. Sure enough just a few years later the mainstream media quietly revised the number of T-72 tanks left as around 600 which if you had any short-term memory at all left meant their original calculations too the number wiped out after ODS were widely optimistic. By the time we invaded again in 2003 most estimates put the number of T-72 tanks at around 700 to 800 (the other 100 to 200 were badly damaged and over the years put back into service)

Oh, and the designations I was giving were the NATO designations as I originally noted since I don't know the Soviet designations for all the imported models that they got. Yeah, Lion of Babylon was just a handful from what I read too, some were put together from kits later on after the wars which some books referred to as Lions of Babylon as well but they were most likely just normal T-72M's

The T-72's bad performance wasn't just because the T-72 had flaws. Rather Saddam's Tank Crews were not trained well, that could also be factor. Saddam's troops did not command the battlefield. The US did, from the air and ground. It was complete retreat. A well trained crew can create ambushes but if army that is properly prepared to use these weapons i.e India knows how to change tactics when needed.

The T-72 is still formidable given its gun, although less powerful than even the T-90's and has Defencies in ranges greater than 2.5 km but considering the cost of the tank, and weight (T-72 can be carried by Il-76) this weapon paints a larger picture. It is in no way on PAR to match the sheer power, and protection of NATO's tanks. Nor was it designed to go 1 on 1. Rather the cost would allow WARSAW to field 3 or so T-72's for every M1A1.

Soviets did not intend on having the T-72's go and take on mechanized infantry or Europe alone. The Soviets considered artillery, massive numbers of them and ATGM.


The T-90 is a redesign of T-72 for greater performance, its almost physically the same machine, however it differs in that electronics have become cheaper, and more widely accesible. The T-80's electronics, ie Shotra ended up on the T-90's.

While I agree that front Armor of the T series is pretty heavy, it is also not the only spot tanks need armor as the Russians have learned seeing the NEW T-90AM which has a lot more armor on the side turret
Nevertheless the T series is done for. There is market for cheap tanks and India is one of them. But they are Out matched by NATO tanks when it comes to fording crossing and just moving

NATO in the event of WWIII would have had the advantage with bigger tanks and better NBC protection. Little is known what would happen after 5 months of WW III. That is the past though

While we can say great things about the T series, ie Auto loader they have shown poor performance, especially when it comes to protecting the crew, and in any war, the crew is more valuable than the tank. IMO

Aside for this, it seems that the Russians and Chinese are increasing ERA and Add on armor, with no major redesign of tanks in assembly. By this I mean, especially the Chinese are adding on Armour after building the HULL and Turret instead of increasing the thickness of armor

Is this related to the fact that T series don't have enough room for thicker armor? so the result is more armor on the exterior of the tank?

On the same issue of armor, the Russians, and Chinese are also trying to increase survivability of their tanks with active defense systems. Shot ra and lasers...a great solution to increase survivability with out increasing weight

The Russian T-72 tank is the most widely used tank ever. Over 50,000 have been built. More than any model in World War II. Ironically, the T-72 was a stopgap design, intended to provide a replacement for the more advanced T-64, which was not successful. Production began in 1972, and the T-72 entered service in 1976. Compared to the earlier T-62 and T-64, the T-72 was successful. It was reliable, or so it was thought. But in 1982, Syrian T-72s went up against Israeli Merkavas. The Syrians lost badly. In 1991, Iraqi T-72s were helpless against American M-1 tanks, and M-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles. But the T-72 remained popular. Partly because it was so cheap. Cold War surplus vehicles, in good shape, could be had for as little as $100,000. The vehicle was still popular because of its reliability. Most nations never expected to use their T-72s in combat, but it was more useful for them to be in running condition in peacetime, when they could control unruly civilians.

Another reason for the popularity of the T-72 is the large number of upgrades available. While the basic T72 was pretty unimpressive, a few upgrades could turn it into a much more formidable (and expensive) tank. For example, modern, computerized, fire control systems, with laser range finders and night-vision sights, and quality ammunition, transforms a T-72 into a very lethal system. While such a tank would still get blasted by an M-1, if the T-72 spotted the M-1 first, and got a flank shot, it could win. The T-72 is also a very mobile vehicle, about on a par with the famously nimble M-1. But protection is always going to be a problem. The stock T-72 is a 41 ton vehicle that is 23 feet long, 11 feet wide and 7.5 feet high. An M-1 is 62 tons, 32 feet long, 12 feet wide and eight feet high. The extra weight is mostly armor, and from the front, the M-1 is still very difficult to kill. To survive, a T-72 not only needs to accessorize, but requires a well trained crew. Most nations using T-72s, don't like to invest in crew training. But that's what makes the most difference in combat.

The T-72 is surviving into the 21st century because Russia's new T-90 was, again, a fall-back design. The T-80 was supposed to be the successor to the T-72. But like the T-62 and T-64 before it, the T-80 didn't quite work out as planned. So the T-72, with a much improved turret and all manner of gadgets, was trotted out as the T-90. At 47 tons, but it's still 23 feet long, 11 feet wide and 7.5 feet high. Same package, better contents. And with well trained crews, it could be deadly

Lion of Babylon (tank) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Aug 9, 2008
There is no credible evidence or logical inference to suggest that the Type 99 is related to the T-72 series.


Nov 6, 2013
Combat performance

The Lion of Babylon saw service in the 1991 Persian Gulf War as well as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Like other tanks in the Iraqi inventory, Lions were mainly employed as armored self-propelled artillery, rather than in maneuver warfare roles. In operations, it fared poorly against American main battle tanks and armored fighting vehicles. For example, a 120 mm depleted uranium (DU) APFSDS round from an M1 Abrams could knock out a Lion of Babylon tank well beyond 3,000 m,[20] while the effective range of the tungsten-core 125 mm shell used by Iraq was 1,800 m.[21]

Within closer ranges, the Lion of Babylon was more effective, especially while within prepared positions.[22] However, even in such conditions, the Lion of Babylon did not fare well against M1s—as proven in the Battle of Norfolk during Desert Storm,[23] although the tank also participated in the battle of Phase Line Bullet, where Bradleys IFVs from the 4th squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment were driven back by dug-in Iraqi armoured vehicles at heavy cost.


Persian Gulf War
The bulk of Iraqi armoured units were equipped with the Type 69 and only Republican Guard divisions were equipped with Iraqi-modified T-72s, with exception of the regular army's armored Saladin division.[25] Thus, engagements between Lions of Babylon and American tanks were limited to conflicts involving such Iraqi units.

During Desert Storm, T-72s built in Taji were technologically 20 years out of date. Only one M1 Abrams was officially documented during the Persian Gulf War as having received enough damage to be towed and receive maintenance after being struck three times on the turret by a Lion.[26][27] Another six M1As were allegedly hit by Iraqi T-72 tank fire in the Gulf War official report, but the impacts were largely ineffectual.[28] According to Atkinson and Scales, Lions accounted for at least two M2 Bradley kills during Desert Storm and left several damaged, all on February 26, 1991

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