India expected to confirm order of 307 indigenous ATAGS howitzers


Before the end of March, the Indian Ministry of Defense is expected to confirm an order for 307 Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS), following a proposal by the Indian Army. These systems are intended to be deployed along the borders with China and Pakistan. This development was revealed by Dr. Samir V Kamat, Chairman of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in a conversation with ANI.
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The ATAGS is a 155 mm x 52 mm caliber howitzer developed by the DRDO (Picture source: Army Recognition)


The ATAGS, which has passed all necessary trials, is a 155 mm x 52 mm caliber howitzer developed by the DRDO in collaboration with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd and Bharat Forge Ltd. Dr. Kamat emphasized DRDO's commitment to supporting the industry, highlighting their partnership with SMEs and private sector entities in the development and integration of these systems.

The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is a howitzer designed and developed in India. Launched in 2019, the ATAGS weighs 18 tonnes and has a barrel length of 8060 mm for a caliber of 155 mm/52. It requires a crew of 6 to 8 people and integrates advanced technologies such as automatic gun alignment and positioning, electro-rheological/magneto-rheological recoil systems, and servo-assisted aiming capabilities. It offers an effective firing range that can be enhanced with specialized ammunition and includes an electric ammunition handling system. The ATAGS can be towed or self-propelled with an auxiliary power unit.

India has significantly increased its defense spending by 13% for the fiscal year 2023-2024, allocating 1.62 trillion rupees (approximately 19.64 billion dollars) for new weapons and platforms. This substantial investment focuses mainly on acquisitions from domestic defense contractors, reflecting the government's commitment to modernizing its defense capabilities and developing its infrastructure.

In recent developments, India has approved a budget of 42.76 billion rupees (approximately 522.17 million dollars) specifically for acquiring weapons from domestic companies. Key acquisitions under this budget include Helina anti-tank guided missiles and very short-range air defense systems for the army. Additionally, the navy is set to receive Brahmos missile launchers and fire control systems for its ships.

The Indian Armed Forces are also modernizing their equipment and capabilities. This includes receiving the first batch of 70,000 AK 203 assault rifles from Russia, with plans to acquire 670,000 rifles, the majority of which will be made in India as part of a joint venture. Furthermore, the Indian government is expected to order 200 new K-9 Vajra (Thunder) 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzers for 1.5 billion dollars, a joint project with Larsen & Toubro and South Korea's Hanwha Defense. The armed forces also plan to acquire futuristic infantry combat vehicles and advanced main battle tanks to enhance their operational capabilities across various terrains.

These efforts are part of India's broader strategy to strengthen its military force and self-reliance in defense technology, particularly in light of ongoing border tensions with China. This move to acquire ATAGS follows the Indian Army's deployment of M-777 ultra-light howitzers in the mountainous regions of Arunachal Pradesh along the actual control line (LAC). This deployment, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh and sensitive areas of the Ladakh sector, is part of India's broader strategy to bolster its military capabilities along the nearly 3,500 km LAC, especially after the Galwan Valley clash in June 2020 that heightened tensions with China.