Indian Army ATAGS Howitzer Fielding

The Advanced Towed Artillery System (ATAGS), referred to by the Ministry of Defence as the “Future mainstay of the Army’s artillery, is on the final path toward operational fielding.

ATAGS was initiated in the mid-2010s as one of several initiatives designed to increase the firepower of Indian artillery. The project was a collaboration between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and co-developer Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) with involvement by Bharat Forge, Mahindra Defence Naval System, Tata Power SED and Advanced Weapons and Equipment India. The objective being to provide an indigenously developed 155m/52-calibre with greater range and enhanced operational features suited to the challenges of future battlefields.

Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System prototype live-fire testing begin in July 2016. Despite some setbacks these were considered sufficiently successful that the Defence Acquisition Council approved the procurement of 150 ATAGS. The acquisition had an estimated cost of INR3,364.78 billion (US$420 million).

This past Spring (2022) the ATAGS successfully completed Preliminary Service Quality Requirements evaluations intended to validate the performance of the system. This clears the way for full production for which a request for proposal is anticipated shortly. Procurement will be under the ‘Indigenously Designed, Developed, and Manufactured’ (IDDM) category procedure and limited to local manufacture.

The 155mm/L52 calibre ATAGS has a maximum range of fire is 35 km and 45 km with rocket assisted projectiles. It can fire up to 5-6 shells per minute and is capable of Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) firing with all rounds impacting concurrently.

The ATAGS has an automatic loading, gun alignment system and ballistic computer using data from land navigation system improving laying accuracy and rate of fire. With a crew of seven it also as has its own diesel 147 hp engine and a steering system for in position self-movement once the howitzer is in position. Emplacement takes under 2 minutes. Towing is by a specialized 6 X 6 Ashok Leyland FAT truck. It has a cab for the gun crew, carries ammunition and has a hydraulic hoist for self-loading and unloading of ammunition.

The ATAGS and the new Dhanush howitzer approved for production in 2019, both made in India, are intended to replace older towed artillery over the next years.

by Stephen W. Miller