New Delhi, Nov 23: Home-grown advanced towed artillery gun system (ATAGS) howitzer developed under the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in partnership with Bharat Forge and TATA Group has crossed a milestone by successfully completing the validation trials towards meeting the specifications of the Indian Army.
The successful validation retrials of ATAGS, a 155 millimetre, 52-calibre heavy artillery gun, conducted at the Pokhran field firing ranges from April 26 to May 2 eventually paves the way for it to be commissioned in the Indian Army.
It may be recalled that earlier this year on the occasion of 76th Independence Day on August 15, it was this same gun which was used for giving the 21-gun salute from the Red Fort while giving emphasis to Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat or Self-Reliant India, and Make in India campaign.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also made the reference of the Howitzer Guns from the rampart of the Red fort that the ATAGS was the manifestation of indigenization or what is called the ‘Make in India’ program that aims at self-reliance in arms and ammunition production.
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The gun has several significant features including a six-round magazine instead of the standard three-round magazine. This necessitates a larger chamber and is a major factor in pushing up the overall weight of the system.
- Highest shooting range: 45 Km,
- Increased chamber capacity of 25 Litres,
- Rate of Firing: 5 Rounds in 45 seconds / 10 Rounds in 150 Seconds / 60 Rounds in 60 Minutes
- Has an all-electric drive and advanced features like high mobility, quick deployment
auxiliary power mode,
- advanced communications system, and
- automatic command and control system with night capability in direct-fire mode.
How will ATAGS Howitzer guns be a game changer in India’s military firepower:
The ‘Made in India’ advanced Howitzer guns is the brainchild of DRDO and developed by its Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) and Armament & Combat Engineering Systems (ACE), located in Pune. It must be noted that the production has the involvement of the private sector as well which sets an true example of Public-Private Partnership leading to a world class weapon system fully designed and developed in India.
According to the DRDO website, ATGAS is a large calibre Gun system with the capability to program and fire future Long Range Guided Munitions (LRGM) to achieve precision and deep strike. The system is configured with an all-electric drive that will ensure maintenance free and reliable operation over longer periods of time.
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The maximum range of fire of ATGAS is 35 km with extended range shells and 45 km with rocket assisted extended-range shells. The maximum rate of firing of the ATAGS howitzer is 5-6 shells per minute. It is also capable of Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) firing. This feature is unusual for a field howitzer, as reported by Military today website.
These Howitzer guns can launch a burst of 5 shells within 45 seconds. These shells will hit a target simultaneously at a range of up to 15 km. Sustained rate of fire is 1 shell per minute.
Game-Changer for Indian Army
According to Sangam Sinha, DG (R&M), DRDO, the ATAGS howitzer is a ‘game changer’ as it is the first in the world to have a range of 45 Km; it is self-propelled and can be towed easily. The ATAGS has an automatic gun alignment system and ballistic computer, which uses firing data from land navigation system. Elevation, traverse, ammunition loading and breech operation of ATGAS are controlled automatically. These systems allowed to improve the gun laying accuracy and rate of fire. This artillery system is operated by a crew of 7.
This howitzer has its own diesel engine and a steering system. The engine is used for self-movement once the howitzer gun is in position. The ATAGS is also capable of auto-propulsion on roads. It achieves speeds of up to 18 km.
The ATAGS project was started in 2013 by the DRDO to replace older guns in service in the Indian Army with a modern 155mm artillery gun. This specialised gun system is compatible with C4I systems like the Artillery Combat Command and Control System called Shakti for technical fire control, fire planning, deployment management, operational logistics management of the Indian Army.
In August, 2018 the Defence Ministry had already accorded approval for the purchase of 150 of these guns at an approximate cost of Rs 3,365 crore.
Story first published: Wednesday, November 23, 2022, 15:24 [IST]