A locally made gun is set to undergo crucial trials in January at a time when the army has sharpened its focus on its long-delayed artillery modernisation programme. The indigenous 155mm 52-calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the private sector, will kick off winter trials in the Sikkim sector, a senior army officer said.
The ATAGS set a record during trials in Rajasthan’s Pokhran in September, firing shells to a range of 48 km, against army’s requirement of 40 km. The defence ministry sanctioned the ATAGS project in September 2012 and the DRDO has partnered with Bharat Forge and Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) SED to develop two prototypes of the towed artillery guns. The value of DRDO-developed/upgraded systems inducted into the armed forces during the last three years stands at Rs 1.1 lakh crore, the government told Lok Sabha on Wednesday. These systems do not include strategic weapons. The M777 order is the first contract for artillery guns in India almost 30 years after the Bofors scandal unfolded in the late 1980s. India signed the Rs 5,000-crore deal with the US in November 2016 for 145 howitzers.