Artillery weapon systems are among the many projects that have been produced as a result of the national push towards ‘Make in India’ to achieve self-sufficiency in industrial capabilities, especially in the manufacturing of products defense.
The Indian Army (IA) Field Artillery Rationalization Program (FARP) was conceived following the Kargil conflict in 1999. The IA plans to standardize and streamline the procurement and development of approximately 3,000 artillery pieces under this program. These parts will be divided into five categories: 1580 parts of towed gun systems (ATAGS, Dhanush and Sharang), 814 mounted gun systems (probably ATAGS on Ashok Leyland 8×8 HMV 15009 military truck chassis or 8×8 Tatra truck-mounted howitzer based on Dhanush Gun), 180 self-propelled wheeled gun systems (K9 Vajra), 200 self-propelled tracked gun systems (K9 Vajra) and 145 ultra-light portable howitzers (M777 howitzer). In line with the Indian artillery ‘mediumisation’ plan, the standard caliber for the majority of future artillery gun purchases will be 155 millimeters, with the 155 millimeter towed artillery guns serving as the mainstay of the force. ‘artillery.
The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is responsible for creating the 155mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), and the Armaments Research and Development Establishment (ARDE ) and the Armaments and Combat Engineering (ACE) Systems located in Pune are directly involved in its development. The manufacture of the weapon system was contracted to Bharat Forge Ltd., a subsidiary of the Kalyani Group, as well as Tata Advanced Systems Ltd.
The Bharat-52 was a 155 mm long 52 caliber (155 mm/52) gun that the Kalyani Group built with technology provided by international suppliers. Interestingly, the Bharat-52 served as a “precursor” in some respects to the ATAGS. In 2017, AI put the prototype through its paces, but ultimately decided not to purchase it for widespread use.
The 155 mm / 52 caliber ATAGS artillery gun is intended to augment or replace the Russian M-46 130 mm gun currently upgraded to 155 mm and the Swedish Bofors FH77B 155 mm gun. The Indian artillery has used both weapons for the past 60 and 40 years, respectively, as part of its arsenal. Compared to these older weapon systems, the ATAGS offers a major improvement in terms of lethality, ease of use and system functionality.
The Development and Production Partnership Program (DCPP), where DRDO engages development partners/production agencies to carry out projects as a form of support to the indigenous sector, was behind the design of the program ATAGS in 2013. After that, production was planned to start in 2019. At the start of the program, Bharat Forge and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. created two prototypes for development testing called P1 and P2. The test and evaluation results were used to develop and deliver P3 and P4 versions of an improved prototype. Then, tests with other prototypes took place.
Due to the expertise already available through the continuous development of other indigenous artillery gun systems, the development of the gun system was completed in a very short time of four years. The ATAGS were on display at the 2017 Republic Day Parade for all to see. Following the publication of the tender, the first order of 150 units should be executed by 2026.
The need to “develop a comprehensive firepower and fire support system based on long-range artillery, rockets and missiles with high lethality, precision and mobility” is found in paragraph 24 of the Technology Outlook and the Capabilities Roadmap (TPCR), which is a vision document for capability building up to 2027. It would be the responsibility of those developing any indigenous artillery weapon system to ensure that it meets to these general performance standards.
The ATAGS can fire a variety of munitions, including Terminal Guided Munitions (TGMs), High Explosive (HE) Long Range Large Bore Munitions (ERFBs), and Base Purge High Explosive (HE) Munitions ( BB) for longer range. 155mm HE ERFB RA/BB can fire almost double the standard EEFB/BB projectiles. Additionally, it can fire at numerous charge zones, allowing it to reach ranges of up to 45 kilometers depending on operational and tactical requirements. The gun chamber capacity has been extended to 25 litres, which is greater than any other contemporary gun system found anywhere in the world.
The gun incorporates a number of advanced sub-assemblies, one of which is an electric drive, which is used to affect the majority of the gun’s actions and functions. This gives the gun greater operational stability and therefore greater consistency when it comes to shooting. When operating in extremely low or high temperatures, using a hydraulic fluid-based system can cause problems that can be avoided by using an electric drive.
The ATAGS is equipped with an integrated fire control system (FCS) which consists of an automatic gun alignment and positioning system (AGAPS) based on an inertial navigation system, a muzzle velocity radar and a ballistic computer. These subsystems allow accurate calculation of firing data and the laying of firearms, achieving a very high level of firing accuracy and consistency. The automatic barrel alignment system and ballistic computer contribute to faster barrel laying and aiming, resulting in an increased rate of fire.
The gun is equipped with a powerful self-propelled unit that has 147 horsepower and can reach speeds of up to 18 kilometers per hour while operating in the deployment area and, to some extent, while traveling. This increases the survivability of the gun and improves its maneuverability, especially in mountainous terrain. When used during deployment, the Self-Propulsion Unit drastically reduces the time it takes for the gun to spring into action and be ready to engage in an accelerated time frame of sixty to one hundred and twenty seconds!
The voice and data communication unit is responsible for managing all aspects of communication. The digital intercommunication system allows two-way voice communications to take place between the command post, the troop leader and the artillery detachment commander. Meanwhile, the Intra communication system facilitates communication between gun crew members. The Artillery Command, Control and Communications System (ACCCS), which the Indian artillery uses for technical fire control, fire planning, deployment management and operational logistics management, is also compatible with ATAGS.
As a complete weapon system, the ATAGS is equipped with its own gun tower, which is a specialized Ashok Leyland 6×6 artillery tractor. This tractor is part of the ATAGS. The cannon tower is equipped with a crew cabin and can store the cannon’s initial ammunition supply. Additionally, the tower is equipped with a hydraulic crane that can be operated manually and is used for loading and unloading ammunition.
Part of the mix
In virtually every metric, the ATAGS performs better than its so-called “predecessor”, the 155mm FH77B. One of the biggest concerns is the extra weight the ATAGS will impose. However, the fact that the mobility tests were passed at high altitudes and the self-propelled engine was quite powerful would more than compensate for this drawback. As envisioned by the FARP, the ATAGS and its indigenous contemporaries, such as the 155mm Dhanush and, to a lesser extent, the locally armed 155m Sharang, would represent the backbone of wholly or largely indigenous towed gun armament of India over a long period. of time.