India's advanced towed artillery gun system (ATAGS) being developed locally for the Indian Army performed successful long range shell firing tests.
The 155-millimetre, 52-calibre gun-howitzer fired three shells out to a distance of 47.2 kilometres from the gun position. This was achieved using special, long-range ammunition called “high explosive – base bleed” (HE – BB). In comparison, 155-millimetre, 52-calibre guns in service worldwide fires this ammunition to maximum ranges of 40-45 kilometres.
The ATAGS is being developed by the Defence Research & Defence Organisation (DRDO) on two parallel tracks – one prototype in partnership with Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) and another with Bharat Forge.
The secret of the ATAGS longer range is its larger chamber – 25 litres, compared to 23 litres in most 155-millimetre guns like the French Nexter and Israeli Elbit guns the military has evaluated. A larger chamber packs in more high explosive propellant, which shoots out the warhead further.
The need to cater for this higher “shock of firing” makes the ATAGS a heavier gun. It weighs in at 17-18 tonnes, while comparable guns worldwide weigh 14-15 tonnes.
So promising is the ATAGS that both existing prototypes were paraded on January 26 in New Delhi.
After the gun successfully completes development and firing trials, the army is likely to procure at least 2,000 ATAGS. At an estimated Rs 15 crore apiece, that will result in Rs 30,000 crore in business for the production eco-system, benefiting a large number of private defence firms.
With the current round of “summer trials” having successfully concluded in Pokhran, the ATAGS will now undergo modifications and prepare for “winter trials” in December, probably in Sikkim. Each vendor will build three more ATAGs gun prototypes to expedite trials.