Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System
The user trials of indigenously built Advanced Towed Artillery Gun system (ATAGS) is to be resumed by December 2020. The trials of ATAGS were paused in September 2020 as the gun suffered a barrel burst. After the barrel burst, a committee was set up with Indian Army representatives, DRDO scientists and Ordnance Factory Board officials to determine the cause of the burst. The guns are to be moved to Balasore testing range for winter trials.
Currently the Government of India is to import 1,580 ATAGS from Israel.
About Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System
- The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is a towed howitzer, which is being developed for the Indian Army by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- The 155 mm/52 calibre artillery gun is jointly developed by the DRDO in partnership with the private players Bharat Forge (Kalyani Group) and the Tata Power SED.
- The ATAGS project was started in the year 2013 by DRDO, to replace older guns in service in the Indian Army with modern 155mm artillery guns.
- In the year 2017, the gun created a world record by firing the round to a distance of 47.2 kilometres.
Controversies related to ATAGS
In August 2020, the Ministry of Defence banned the import of artillery guns from December 2020 citing Atma Nirbhar Bharat initiative. However, after twelve days of the announcement the Defence Ministry allowed imports for an extra year. This cleared the decks to import 1,580 guns from the Israeli firm Elbit Systems.
The Defence Ministry had prepared a list of 101 items whose imports were to be banned. It included 155-mm, 52 calibre artillery guns. While this was to be implemented by December 2020, it had been postponed to December 2021.
In August 2018, the Defence Acquisition Council approved the purchase of 150 of these guns at a cost of Rs 3,365 crores.
Why is the ATAGS being imported?
Currently, the Indian Army is in need of 1,580 of these guns. These guns are comparatively of less weight than those produced indigenously and are ideal to carry in the mountains. With the current stand-off with China and border scenarios along LoC, it is essential to equip the Indian soldiers with the right artillery to help them during the winters. The guns are being imported to make the weapons available to the soldiers at the earliest.