New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: In what could boost Modi government's plan to make India self-reliant in the crucial defence sector, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully conducted the field trials of Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) howitzers.

The DRDO, which has developed the ATAGS howitzers along with Bharat Forge Limited and Tata Advanced Systems Limited, believes that it could solve the Army's requirement of 1800 artillery guns systems, claiming that it is the "best gun in the world".

"The Indian Army's requirement is for 1580 towed artillery guns and apart from that, they need 150 ATAGS and another 114 Dhanush guns. So, there is a requirement of a total of 1,800 guns. The way the ATAGS is performing and come up, I am sure that this entire requirement of 1,800 guns can be met by this gun only," DRDO scientist Shailendra V Gade said while speaking to news agency ANI.

What are the features of the ATAGS howitzer?

The DRDO says that ATAGS howitzer -- which has been indigenously developed -- is the "longest firing gun in the world" and has the capability to strike targets at a range of 48 kilometers. It believes that the gun can also hit targets that are "eight kilometers behind their strike range".

Talking about the speciations, the ATAGS howitzer is a 155 mm calibre gun which has a weight of 18 tonnes and 6,975 mm barrel length. The howitzer requires a crew of 6 to 8 personnel.

The howitzer is equipped with advance features like auxiliary power mode, automatic command and control system, advanced communication system and night vision system. The DRDO says that it can fire three rounds in 15 seconds in burst mode while in sustained more, it has a rate of fire of 60 rounds in 60 minutes.

How does the ATAGS howitzer fare against the legendary Bofors gun?

The DRDO says that the ATAGS howitzer is "far better" than the legendary Bofors gun used by the Indian Army in the 1999 Kargil War and can also compete with the ATHOS guns, noting that "no other country has been able to such a system built on this high-technology with a high rate of firing capability".

Here it is noteworthy to mention that the Indian Army was thinking to purchase the Israeli guns ATHOS.

"The range is also very high at 48 kilometers whereas the Bofors can fire at 32kms using the same type of round. The mobility is also very high. The gun will be very reliable, maintenance-free and robust," Gade told ANI.

"If you look at the qualitative requirements of the ATHOS and Nexter guns, the requirements of the ATAGS are very stringent. So, definitely, the gun's systems are not very contemporary. If we look at the future as 2027-2030, the ATAGS is the answer for those times for the Indian Army," he added.

Can ATAGS howitzer help India in a two-front war against China and Pakistan?

The field trials were recently conducted and it fired over 2,000 rounds in places like Sikkim near the China border and Pokharan near the Pakistan border. The DRDO believes that it would give an edge to the Indian Army over China and Pakistan in a war scenario.

It also says that ATAGS will fulfil the Indian Army's full requirement of 1800 artillery guns systems and there was no need for imports in this field.

"Not at all. I feel India as a country, we have developed the core competence and technology is there to meet the country's requirements for world-class guns," Gade told ANI when asked whether there was a need for India to import any howitzer from abroad in view of the presence of howitzer.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma