India’s first high capacity indigenous long-range 155mm/52 gun and Dhanush’s supplement ATAGS (Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System) firing user trials of next stage began from Friday. The trials began at Pokhran field firing range of Jaisalmer district. The Indian Army has begun finalizing the preliminary specifications of qualitative requirements (PSQR). Defence Research & Defence Organisation (DRDO) and senior army officers were present at the trials.
The gun during its last trials had fired 47.2 km long distance which was the world’s longest distance. The source said that on Friday 48 rounds were fired and on Saturday 12 rounds were fired. Two guns are currently undergoing trials and two more guns will have their trials in a month. The PSQR should be ready by July. Till now there is a sanction for production of 10 guns as part of the development process. The gun currently weighs about 18 tonnes while the ideal weight for the army would be 14-15 tonnes.
Sources said ATAGS is being developed by DRDO on two parallel tracks – one prototype in partnership with Tata Power and another with Kaveri Group (Bharat Forge).
Sources said once the PSQRs are approved, the process for formulating the final qualitative requirements would begin. Guns from both Bharat Forge and Tata Power would be evaluated and based on the commercial bids, the order would be split between them with the lowest bidder getting a larger order. The defence ministry has already approved the in-principle purchase of 150 of these guns at an approximate cost of 3,365 crores.
At the moment the firing capacity is being checked on different parameters such as climate, terrain, range accuracy, etc and these guns are performing as per the expectation. The ammunition is also being checked. The gun has the world’s longest hitting capacity. The user trials will go on for four more days.
The ATAGS, India’s first indigenous 155mm/52-caliber towed artillery gun will be a joint project of two private-sector corporations. This is a reversal of the usual practice of giving only state-owned companies these kinds of orders.