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11:50 AM, January 26, 2017
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Dhanush, a self-propelled Howitzer ( Photo for representation only)

India’s two private-sector firms, Tata Power SED and the Kalyani Group have won $4.5 billion to jointly co-develop Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) with state-owned Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

The production order could be a bonanza for India’s private defense groups, as the country’s army seeks to fill its requirement of over 1,500 towed guns, Sputnik News reported today.

The ATAGS, India’s first indigenous 155mm/52-caliber towed artillery gun, will be a joint project of two private-sector corporations. This is a reversal of the usual practice of giving only state-owned companies these kinds of expensive orders.

Retired Indian Army major general and defense analyst Bhupinder Yadav told Defense News that "Two ATAGS prototypes have already been made and are under trials.

Ministry of Defense has already projected immediate requirement of 114 guns. The production can start within two years of order placement. With two partners having their own production line, they can meet the requirement faster.

A prototype, with a range of 28 miles, will also undergo trials, testing its abilities in different climates and terrain, along with range accuracy, an unnamed Indian Army official said.

For serial production to be established, it would take at least upwards of one and a half years. "In all, ATAGS will take at least four years for induction into artillery," he added.

The gun system would be more cost effective than similar systems purchased from foreign weapons suppliers. ATAGS was designed to supplement Dhanush, the 155 millimeter/45 caliber artillery gun that was an indigenously-built improvement on the Swedish-manufactured FH-77B 155 mm/39 caliber towed howitzer.

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