Following extensive trial firings over several years, the Indian Army has submitted a proposal to acquire the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), an indigenously built weapon capable of being deployed in high altitude areas, the Economic Times has reported.
According to the daily's report, the Army has proposed buying around 310 of these towed guns, and the proposal will soon receive clearance from the Rajnath Singh-led Ministry of Defence.
The ATAGS has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in collaboration with the Kalyani Group and Tata Advanced Systems Limited.
The gun is capable of being deployed in high-altitude regions along India's frontier with Tibet, where the Army is locked in a tense standoff with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).
The indigenous gun boasts unparalleled range capabilities, with its Extended Range Sub-Bore Boat Tail (ERFB BT) ammunition capable of striking targets at 35 km, and ERFB BB (Base Bleed) ammunition reaching a range of approximately 45 km. Notably, in 2017, the ATAGS was successfully fired at an impressive range of 47 km.
Given the ongoing Ladakh border crisis with China, the ATAGS' high altitude performance is a crucial factor in its design. To this end, the Indian Army conducted a series of tests, including sustained firing drills using only the backup battery at heights over 13,000 feet and checking the gun's performance at extremely low temperatures.
In terms of its chamber size, the ATAGS is designed with a larger 25-litre chamber, giving it a slightly extended range of 48 km compared to the NATO standard of 23-litre chambers.
The Army has subjected the gun to rigorous testing across different terrains, including the desert in Rajasthan and high-altitude ranges in Sikkim.
The tests encompassed direct fire during both day and night on tank-sized targets, sustained firing of 60 rounds per hour, as well as tests for five round bursts and rapid rate of firing.
High-altitude trials of the gun in January 2018 at the 12,000-foot-high Menla Firing Range in Sikkim were successful.
However, the ATAGS programme suffered a significant setback in 2020 when the barrel of one of the guns burst during testing in Pokhran.
After further trials in the summer of 2021, Lieutenant General T K Chawla, the then Director General of Artillery, stated that the gun failed to meet certain criteria and would require further modification.
The gun underwent trials again at the Pokhran Test Range in 2022.
At the DefExpo in October 2022, officials from Kalyani announced that the firing trials of the ATAGS had been completed in July of this year.
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