The Indian Army is all set to test the DRDO-made 155 mm 52-calibre advanced towed artillery gun system (ATAGS) in Sikkim.
It would be the first high-altitude test of the indigenously-manufactured howitzer.
The gun has been developed by DRDO’s Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) in partnership with Ordnance Factories Board (OFB), Kalyani Group, and Tata Power.
Designed to replace the army’s ageing guns, the ATAGS will be inducted once all the field trials are over. In September 2017, the ATAGS completed successful desert trials in Rajasthan.
The gun performed better than expectations hitting targets approximately 48 kilometres away instead of the expected 40 kilometres.
The high altitude test will be crucial for the gun as it will determine its effectiveness in mountainous areas.
It should be noted that the entire stretch of the Indo-China border is mountainous as is the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.
The utility and need for better howitzers was especially understood during the Kargil War in which the guns proved their effectiveness by assisting Indian troops in capturing heights.
This is why India has been keen on developing and purchasing guns.
Besides the ATAGS, the DRDO is also making the Dhanush artillery gun. India has also placed an order of 145 BAE M777 155 mm guns from the United States for US$ 750 million.
The all-electric ATAGS has a chamber size of 25 litres which helps it fire shells at longer distances than guns of a comparable make.
It can fire 3 rounds burst in 15 seconds enabling it to target the enemy before they find shelter.
Though heavier than other guns, DRDO ATAGS can be moved at a greater speed and uses a much advanced communication technology.
According to estimates, each gun will cost around Rs.15 crore.
The Army needs over 2000 howitzers. As per reports, the test may be held sometime next week for an unspecified duration.