On Monday, in trial firing at the Pokhran Ranges in Rajasthan, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) being indigenously developed for the Indian Army demonstrated its potential to be a world-beating system.
The 155-millimetre, 52-calibre gun-howitzer fired three shells out to a world-record distance of 47.2 kilometres from the gun position. This was achieved using special, long-range ammunition called “high explosive – base bleed” (HE – BB). In comparison, 155-millimetre, 52-calibre guns in service worldwide fire this ammunition to maximum ranges of 40-45 kilometres.
The achievement coincides with the appointment of Nirmala Sitharaman as defence minister. The ATAGS is being developed by the Defence Research & Defence Organisation (DRDO) on two parallel tracks – one prototype in partnership with Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) and another with Bharat Forge. The prototype that broke the record was the Tata Power (SED) gun.
Earlier, on Saturday, the same gun had broken another record by firing “high explosive – boat tail” (HE – BT) ammunition to a range of 37.2 kilometres.
Range, accuracy and consistency are the key attributes of an artillery gun. A longer range allows more area to be engaged from a “gun position”, without having to redeploy (or shift) the guns.