The Business Standard reports that the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), a dual-track joint-program between the Defence Research & Defence Organization (DRDO) and (in parallel) Tata Power and Bharat Forge, yielded “world-beating” records from its firing tests in Pokhran, Rajasthan.
The ATAGS howitzer that was recently tested was the one developed by DRDO and Tata Power’s Strategic Engineering Division. It is a 155 mm and 52-caliber howitzer. The ATAGS reportedly fired three shells to a range of 47.2 km using a high-explosive base-bleed shell.
Comparable howitzer guns firing base bleed shells generally have maximum firing ranges between 40 and 45 km. For example, the Denel Land Systems T5-52 and Yugoimport-SDPR NORA B-52 can fire base bleed shells to 42.5 km and 41 km, respectively.
DRDO reportedly credited the range extension to the ATAGS’ larger chamber (25 litres vs. 23 litres), which affords additional space for high-explosive propellant. However, the ATAGS is also heavier than its foreign analogues, weighing 17,000-18,000 kg in comparison to 14,000 to 15,000 kg.
The ATAGS also benefits from an all-electric drive system for each part of the gun, including the handling of the ammunition, opening/closing the breech, and inserting the round into the chamber for firing. The aim of the system is to reduce maintenance and maintain reliability for long-term usage.
In January, The Hindu reported that the Indian Army was optimistic about the ATAGS, with a senior Indian Army officer telling the newspaper: “The gun has come up very well. The way the project is unfolding, if it continues that way, it will be one of the finest guns in its class in the world.”
The ATAGS is a collaboration between the public and private sector. While DRDO’s Armament Research and Development (ARDE) spearheads the ATAGS’ design, private entities Bharat Forge, Tata Power SED and Mahindra Defence Naval System are involved in the development and production process.
India commissioned the ATAGS’ development in 2012. Production of the ATAGS prototype began in 2014, with tests commencing in July 2016. The aim of the ATAGS was to provide the Indian Army with a domestic artillery platform that is readily at-par with foreign designs.