India DRDO ATAGS Howitzer: India’s apex Defence Research and Development Organisation – DRDO is ready to supply over 200 Made in India Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) howitzers to Indian Army within 18-24 months of placement of the order.
DRDO’s offer comes in the backdrop of a choice between an indigenous and foreign option to fulfill Indian Army’s requirement for over 400 howitzers.
The DRDO has developed the gun in partnership with private industry.
Officials said the Made in India ATAGS howitzers would be in a position to meet the requirements of the Indian Army in the shortest possible time-frame as they have their production facilities ready while the Israeli gun on offer would take a long time to create a production infrastructure.
According to a report in business daily Business-Standard, Israel’s defence giant Elbit Systems has offered to produce 70% of its howitzer in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship Make in India scheme.
The Indian Army is on a lookout for advanced howitzers which are to be deployed at China border at the earliest. The Israeli gun has been cleared after a long tendering process.
This year, Indian government placed howitzers in the negative import list making the production of guns in the country compulsory for the winner of the tender.
“The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is undergoing trials at Ahmednagar in Maharashtra. We can offer 200 plus of these guns to the Army within 18-24 months of the order,” DRDO officials said.
The DRDO-developed ATAGS has shown immense capability as it has fired at the longest striking range in its class of guns but suffered an accident during trials in the Jaislamer desert a few months ago.
ATGAS is a large calibre gun system with the capability to program and fire future Long Range Guided Munitions (LRGM) to achieve precision and deep strike.
The system is configured with an all- electric drive that will ensure maintenance free and reliable operation over longer periods of time. The system is currently in the advanced stage of development.
General Bipin Rawat backs indigenisation
India’s top military officer Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said such incidents during the trial must not dampen the spirit.
“Failures during trials will happen but these must not dampen the spirit, instead it must lead to timely reviews and encourage the manufacturers to seek ways to overcome the problems,” said General Bipin Rawat.
“Services on their side also need to prepare acceptable and desirable requirements and continue to support the development process for further enhancement of quality,” he added.
General Rawat said defence manufacturing in India was at the cusp of transformation and the success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for Atmanirbhar Bharat (a self-reliant India) would necessitate that the services do the handholding of the local industry.
“Service officers with practical experience must be integrated into the design and development processes. Navy has set standards that have helped in indigenisation but more needs to be done. Army and Air Force have gradually entered into the fray,” General Rawat said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has embarked on the ambitious Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) process in the defence sector and the CDS has been tasked to prepare the list of items which have to be produced in India only.
The CDS with the support of the three services and the DRDO has already issued one negative imports list and is soon going to issue another shortly to promote local industry.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has also made it clear to the forces that wherever there is an option of acquiring good local products, foreign equipment would not be allowed.