India’s Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) will undergo user-assisted technical trials with the Indian Army later this year, IDN has learned at the DefExpo 2018 exhibition

Two locally developed artillery pieces – the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and Dhanush – participated in a live demonstration at the DefExpo 2018 exhibition in Chennai. Although they are not yet in production, there are positive signals that the Indian Army’s artillery fleet is finally in for a boost, after 20 years of having failed to buy a towed artillery gun from the global arms market, top army generals are finally reassured that their most worrying operational shortfall will soon be met from within India. The guns have shown exemplary revision from past defence equipment manufactured by Indian Defence Public Sector Units. The ATAGS has gone on to even set a world record of achieving the longest firing of a shell at a distance of more than 48.074 km surpassing the maximum ranges of 35-40 km fired by any artillery gun system in this category. ATAGS’s range is noticeably higher, especially while firing "high explosive – base bleed” (HE – BB), “extended range full bore” (ERFB) ammunition and the “high explosive – boat tail” (HE – BT) ammunition, with which the range goes up to an astonishing 50 kilometres.

The ATAGS is the world’s only gun with a six-round “automated magazine”, which lets it fire a six-round burst in just 30 seconds. Most other 155-mm, 52-calibre guns have three-round magazines, which must be reloaded after firing three rounds. ATAGS is potentially the DRDO’s biggest indigenous project, aiming to meet the army’s need for more than 2,000 towed artillery pieces in the coming decade.

The gun is mostly built by two private companies, TATA Power SED (Strategic Engineering Division), which has built one prototype. The Kalyani Group has built a second prototype, the company makes the barrel and breech mechanism. Alternatively, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) won the tender to manufacture gun barrels, along with forgings giant, the Kalyani Group. Other private companies have won roles too. Mahindra Defence Systems will make the recoil system along with TATA Power SED, while Punj Lloyd will make the muzzle brake.

A look at the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)

– Designed by DRDO, built mainly by private industry
– 1,500 – 2,000 guns needed by army
– Rs 15-18 crore per gun, total cost about Rs 30,000 crore
– ATAGS is a 155-millimetre, 52-calibre gun-howitzer
– 45-kilometre range with “extended range” ammunition
– Fires six rounds in 30 seconds, fastest in the world
– World’s first towed gun with all-electric drive
– Weighs 16 tonnes, 2-3 tonnes heavier than comparable guns
– Fires 60 rounds in 60 minutes in “sustained fire” mode
– 25-litre chamber for larger projectile

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.