In the trial firing at the Pokhran Ranges in Rajasthan on Monday, ATAGS (advanced towed artillery gun system) demonstrated its potential to be a world-beating system. The 155-millimetre, 52-calibre gun-howitzer fired three shells out to set a world-record distance of 47.2 kilometres from the gun position.
This was achieved by using special, long-range ammunitions called high explosive – base bleed (HE – BB). If we compare the other worldwide 155-millimetre, 52-calibre guns in service, they are able to fire upto a maximum range of 40-45 kilometres.
The achievement collided with the appointment of Nirmala Sitharaman as the defence minister.
The ATAGS is developed by the ‘Defence Research & Defence Organisation (DRDO)’ on two parallel tracks. One prototype is in partnership with Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) and another with Bharat Forge.
The prototype that broke the record was the Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division gun.
Right after the world record breaking day, on Saturday, the same gun had broken another record by firing high explosive – boat tail ammunition to a range of 37.2 kilometres.
The key attributes of the artillery gun are range, accuracy and consistency. A longer range allows more area to be engaged from a gun position, without having to shift the guns.
What is the secret behind the longer range of the ATAGS?
The other 155-millimetre French Nexter and Israeli Elbit guns use 23 litres while ATAGS uses 25 litres. A larger chamber packs is higher explosive propellant, which shoots out the warhead further.
ATAGS weighs around 17-18 tonnes, while comparable guns present worldwide weigh 14-15 tonnes only. This makes ATAGS a heavier gun.
What after the prototypes are done testing?
After the gun successfully completes development trials, the army is likely to obtain at least 2,000 ATAGS. At an estimated Rs 15 crore apiece, that will result in Rs 30,000 crore in business for the production eco-system, benefiting a large number of private defence firms.
At an estimated Rs 15 crore per piece, the entire amount will result in Rs 30,000 crore in business. This will benefit a large number of private defence firms.
With the current round of successful summer trials concluded in Pokhran, the ATAGS will now undergo certain modifications and will be prepared for winter trials in December. The winter trials will be held in Sikkim.
The first ATAGS firing trials were carried out in Balasore, Odisha, last December.
Are Bofors FH-77B and ATAGS similar?
The nefarious Bofors gun that India bought in the 1980s in huge numbers before scandal derailed indigenous construction, the ATAGS is in bigger than the 39-calibre Bofors.
If we talk about a 155-millimetre, 52-calibre gun, the first figure denotes the bore of the gun or the width of the gun barrel. The higher the calibre, the longer the barrel and, therefore, the greater its range.
A third parameter is the chamber size, which is responsible to determine how large a projectile can be fired from the gun. Also, how much damage a round can inflict on the target.
Another ground breaking feature in the ATAGS is its all-electric drive. The drive supersedes hydraulic drives in other towed guns. The all-electric drive operates all the ATAGS gun controls that include ammunition handling, opening and closing the breech, and ramming the round into the chamber, etc.
The all electric ATAGS is the world’s only gun with a six-round automated magazine that fires a six-round burst in mere 30 seconds.
A high burst fire capability will provide the army with a significant advantage since artillery causes most casualties in the initial burst of fire when enemy soldiers are caught in the open and not after they dive into their excavations.
Source: Business Standard