India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has announced that it can deliver over 200 units of the indigenously-developed Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) within 18-24 months of the placement of an order, according to news agency ANI.
This would cater to the Indian Army’s requirement of over 400 howitzers, in the quickest possible timeframe in view of the new threats emerging at the country’s borders with China and Pakistan.
Cross-border artillery usage involving weapons ranging from mortars to 105mm light guns to 214mm rockets has been reported during ceasefire violations many times along the Line of Control (Pakistan border).
ATAGS has also set a world record for the longest unassisted projectile range of 48 kilometers during trials in 2017.
To replace its older systems, the force has been on the lookout for new 155mm howitzer guns, with recent inductions being the American M-777s, Sharang, Dhanush, K9 Vajra, and the ATAGS.
Last year, it was announced that the Indian Army has selected the Israeli ATHOS-2052 gun instead of the ATAGS. The latter suffered a barrel burst during trials in September this year, injuring four personnel. However, it was earlier stated that 400 ATHOS systems would be purchased, while an equal number of ATAGS would be acquired in the future.
Exuding confidence in the indigenous ATAGS, Chief of Defense Staff, Gen. Bipin Rawat, said that such failures are common during the development of a new weapon system, and this should not dampen the ‘spirit’ of achieving indigenization goals and self-sufficiency in weapons systems.
He also stressed that these problems provide an insight into the manufacturer to seek ways to overcome them and provide a tested and proven system to the armed forces.
He added that the service [Army] should also engage in the development of such systems. “Service officers with practical experience must be integrated into the design and development processes. The Navy has set standards that have helped in indigenization but more needs to be done. Army and Air Force have gradually entered into the fray,” ANI quoted the CDS as saying.
According to DRDO officials, the ATAGS system is undergoing extensive trials in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra.
The reports further reveal that a second negative-imports list would be released soon.
The Indian Army, being the second largest standing army, needs to pack a lot of firepowers, which comes primarily via artillery units. These units are called the ‘Gods of War’, as they rain a barrage of heavy exploding shells on the enemy from kilometers away with precise accuracy.