Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)
155mm/52-caliber towed artillery gun
The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) project was started in 2013 by DRDO to replace older guns in service in the Indian Army with a modern 155mm artillery gun. DRDO is developing 155 mm / 52 Cal Advance Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) that will upgrade the 155 mm / 45 Cal Dhanush in the future. Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) partnered with Kalyani Group, Tata Power and OFB for this purpose. ATAGS is being developed by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) on two parallel tracks – one prototype in partnership with Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) and another with Kaveri Group (Bharat Forge).
ATAGS was designed to supplement Dhanush, the 155 millimeter/45 caliber artillery gun that was an indigenously-built improvement on the Swedish-manufactured FH-77B 155 mm/39 caliber towed howitzer. New Delhi acquired 144 of the howitzers from BAE Systems (formerly Bofors) between 1987-1991.
The ATAGS is the world’s only gun with a six-round “automated magazine” that fires a six-round burst in just 30 seconds. Most other existing 155-millimetre, 52-calibre guns have three-round magazines, which must be reloaded after firing three rounds. Since most casualties are caused by artillery in the initial burst of fire, when enemy soldiers are caught in the open (and not after they dive into their trenches), a high “burst fire” capability is an important attribute. The ATAGS specifications also require it to fire 60 rounds in 60 minutes in the “sustained fire” mode.
The 25-liter chamber volume of ATAGS allows higher propellant charge to fire ammunition at longer range in comparison to contemporary artillery having 23-liter chamber volume.
The gun has several significant features including an all-electric drive, high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communications system, automated command and control system. It also sports a six-round magazine instead of the standard three-round magazine. This necessitates a larger chamber and is a major factor pushing up the overall weight of the system.
The system is configured with All Electric Drive technology, for the first time in the world, that will ensure maintenance free and reliable operation over longer periods of time. The automation will enable five-round Auto Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI), automatic shell and charge loading, ramming with automatic gun deployment. The automation of these operations also facilitate higher rate of fire, fast coming into/out of action in the war scenario. It is equipped with an Integrated Fire Control System consisting of inertial land navigation based Automatic Gun Alignment and Positioning System, Muzzle Velocity Radar and a Ballistic Computer to carry out online computation. Gun system is also integrated with a Thermal Imager to impart night firing capability in direct fire mode. The system is configured with a Battery Command Post (BCP) that will command and control a battery of six to eight Guns over radio and line. The gun battery, ordnance and recoil system, breech mechanism and muzzle brake have been manufactured by the private industrial partners.
The range achieved by ATAGS is highest ever range achieved by any artillery gun in this category. The 48 km range achievable by in-service ammunition is possible by ATAGS. The all electric drives in the gun system is the first used and demonstrated in any ATAGS and tried nowhere till date. Mobility of 20 km/hr is comparable with the guns available in this category world-over. The firing of zone 7 Bi-Modular Charge System (BMCS) is possible only in ATAGS as compared to firing up to zone 5 by M777 and zone 6 by other international contenders. Most of the specifications such as range, mobility, fire control system, sighting system, etc., from the draft PSQR have been achieved or exceeded by the ATAGS. The prototype that broke the record was the Tata Power (SED) gun - this 52 calibre will be Dhanush MK 2.
In December 2019 India’s domestically produced advanced towed artillery gun system (ATAGS) achieved yet another breakthrough, successfully firing five rounds in 62 seconds. The 155 mm x 52 calibre ATAGS achieved the milestone during evaluation trials at a firing range in the Pokharan region of India’s Rajasthan state. It offered the key parameters for the howitzer to pass the evaluation trials. The howitzer is being developed by the private firm Tata SED with support from the state-funded Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the country's premier military R&D organisation.
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