Indian Army Artillery Systems : News and Updates

T

Tarun

40 ATAGS Artillery Guns for LSP ordered..!!

DAC under the Aegis of Defence Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, has cleared a proposal for production of 40 pcs. of ATAGS Artillery Guns for Limited Series Production (LSP), for user trials by the Army according to a DRDO monthly newsletter.

https://www.drdo.gov.in/drdo/pub/newsletter/2017/dec_17.pdf

reference pics


 
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Ashwin

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Nov 30, 2017
4,107
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Bangalore
Terrible State of Indian Artillery

George S. Patton famously said, “I do not have to tell you who won the war. You know, the artillery did.” There is a huge dilemma for the Indian artillery with this sentence. A nation that tries to maintain 3:1 ratio with Pakistan vis-à-vis its conventional firepower is reeling from decades of institutional inaction led obsolescence and some delays due to bizarre project planning and execution. Today as it stand, most of it’s prime artillery force is either decommissioned or in the state of dismay.
Current State
Following is the head to head comparison between towed artillery of India and Pakistan.

India total towed strength on paper stands at 4150 compared to Pakistan’s 3278 which to begin with is a grave issue for a nation trying to maintain 1:3 ratio in conventional firepower against Pakistan. Add to the fact no one has the seen the S23 and D30 guns in action, neither does the Ordinance factory board produce any ammunition in 180mm and 122 mm calibers, that points to the fact these units are either mothballed or out of service. This brings the total strength of Indian towed artillery to 3500 units- almost neck and neck with a potential adversary where we supposedly brandish the term “numerical superiority”.
Heavy Artillery
Pakistan fields couple of dozen of 203mm gun, and POF still manufactures the ammunition as it also possess 203mm Sel Propelled Guns. Whereas Indian heavy guns are out of action. Although this is not big advantage as 155 mm guns can discharge the duties of heavier guns circa WWII.
155mm Towed Artillery
In the modern 155 mm towed howitzer head to head competition, Indian Army falls short of it’s objectives outgunning and outnumbering the opposition.

India posses a total of 380 155mm guns compared to 394 Guns of Pakistan. This is quite perplexing as India had originally purchased about 410 155 FH77/B guns from Sweden with tech transfer, and only 200 of them survive. This points towards cannibalization of existing guns due to lack of spares which is pure negligence. Today OFB is touting that they are producing Dhanush 155mm guns for the army, a reasonable Explanation is indeed needed for loosing half the fleet of FH77/B over the years, when we haven’t had such terrible luck with the m46. where almost the entire fleet remains intact.

Another reason to worry is the transfer of technology from turkey to Pakistan in building the MKEK Panter, Pakistan is churning out about 30–40 guns every year of this kind, and most likely end up with about 350 units in next couple of year.
Metmorphosis gun has had tube blowouts a couple of time, so most likely it will run for the rest of it’s life as low ring charges to avoid such situations, which will most likely bring down it’s effective range from 39 km to about 25–28. So with the given inventory India does not possess the range or the numerical advantage over it’s Pakistani counterparts.
(On a side note, M46 has been a god-send Russian system for us, much like the Mig 21. It has lived past it’s age and still keeps running like a champ.)
Medium Artillery
When it came to medium artillery, India traditionally maintained heavy superiority against Pakistan with its 130mm and 122 mm cannons. Given Indian Army has decided to pull back all of it’s 122mm guns, Indian medium artillery looks abysmally weak in the comparison to Pakistani medium artillery. India has about 720 M46 130mm medium guns left in service, whereas Pakistan’s 130mm M46 clones and 122 mm variants stand at a staggering 1243 units, almost 500 more medium guns than India.

And this ratio will continue to skew as we eat into long range M46’s and turn them into short range 155mm upgrade. Another aspect t note is Pakistani army’s Type 54 is a 21 Caliber (Length) gun, i.e it’s shorter and highly mobile gun. India on the other hand has chosen not to field any short range, highly mobile medium sized gun which can be used for border escalations.

Light Artillery
The only area where India posses an edge is in the light artillery with is indigenous 105mm work horses IFG and LFG units. India posses about 2400 field guns compared to 1643 guns comprising of 105 mm, 85mm and quarter pounders that Pakistan fields.


One of the major advantages of the Indian Field Guns is the barrel length of 37 Caliber which is longer than all of the comparable 105mm Pakistani light Artillery, which gives it a significant range advantage. Also the Light Field Gun is highly mobile and offsets the portability of the 85mm guns of the adversary. This is one area where Indian army truly outguns the opposition in both range, effectiveness and inventory.
Future State
Indian Army seems to have made up it’s mind on consolidating 155 mm in different length-calibers as it mainstay in towed artillery. A 1600 towed gun contract seems to point at the same. Given Pakistans 155mm and Medium gun combined strength will stand at around 1900 guns in next 3–5 years, if Indian army want’s to pitch a 2:1 ratio it will need a combined strength of atleast 4000 guns.
Gap Analysis
As the 155mm inventory strength today stands at a measly 380 units, Indian establishment will still have a shortfall of about 2000 guns if it wants to get to a 1:2 ratio vis-a-vis Pakistan. With consolidation large and medium artillery Indian Army will need substantial efforts in converting most of it’s m46 fleet with a proven barrel solution for the Beas/Metamorphosis Program which can add another 700 odd 155 mm modified guns to the inventory. the 1600 towed artillery system will need a revamp or even an introduction of another system along side the one chosen to get similar advantages as we have gained in local production of IFG and LFG guns. Given that India doesn’t struggle in the Light Artillery, upgrade programs on 105mm LGF, along with catapult and kalyani Garuda ultralight guns can turn the Light Artillery into more efficient unit.
Conclusion
Indian Artillery is in extremely poor state, and the red tape with acquisition of artillery system has put the lifes of our soldiers to risk. Given that half of the medium artillery is out of commission, and prime front line FH77/B fleet has been cannibalized to half it’s size, it is of utmost importance to fast track both the development and the acquisition Processes for the towed artillery. Success story of the 105mm light Artillery has already set the precedence for Indian Army to follow local production of artillery system to be replicated in the 155mm category.

Written by @Milspec
 

ashkum2278

Member
Dec 4, 2017
24
20
New Delhi
Terrible State of Indian Artillery

George S. Patton famously said, “I do not have to tell you who won the war. You know, the artillery did.” There is a huge dilemma for the Indian artillery with this sentence. A nation that tries to maintain 3:1 ratio with Pakistan vis-à-vis its conventional firepower is reeling from decades of institutional inaction led obsolescence and some delays due to bizarre project planning and execution. Today as it stand, most of it’s prime artillery force is either decommissioned or in the state of dismay.
Current State
Following is the head to head comparison between towed artillery of India and Pakistan.

India total towed strength on paper stands at 4150 compared to Pakistan’s 3278 which to begin with is a grave issue for a nation trying to maintain 1:3 ratio in conventional firepower against Pakistan. Add to the fact no one has the seen the S23 and D30 guns in action, neither does the Ordinance factory board produce any ammunition in 180mm and 122 mm calibers, that points to the fact these units are either mothballed or out of service. This brings the total strength of Indian towed artillery to 3500 units- almost neck and neck with a potential adversary where we supposedly brandish the term “numerical superiority”.
Heavy Artillery
Pakistan fields couple of dozen of 203mm gun, and POF still manufactures the ammunition as it also possess 203mm Sel Propelled Guns. Whereas Indian heavy guns are out of action. Although this is not big advantage as 155 mm guns can discharge the duties of heavier guns circa WWII.
155mm Towed Artillery
In the modern 155 mm towed howitzer head to head competition, Indian Army falls short of it’s objectives outgunning and outnumbering the opposition.

India posses a total of 380 155mm guns compared to 394 Guns of Pakistan. This is quite perplexing as India had originally purchased about 410 155 FH77/B guns from Sweden with tech transfer, and only 200 of them survive. This points towards cannibalization of existing guns due to lack of spares which is pure negligence. Today OFB is touting that they are producing Dhanush 155mm guns for the army, a reasonable Explanation is indeed needed for loosing half the fleet of FH77/B over the years, when we haven’t had such terrible luck with the m46. where almost the entire fleet remains intact.

Another reason to worry is the transfer of technology from turkey to Pakistan in building the MKEK Panter, Pakistan is churning out about 30–40 guns every year of this kind, and most likely end up with about 350 units in next couple of year.
Metmorphosis gun has had tube blowouts a couple of time, so most likely it will run for the rest of it’s life as low ring charges to avoid such situations, which will most likely bring down it’s effective range from 39 km to about 25–28. So with the given inventory India does not possess the range or the numerical advantage over it’s Pakistani counterparts.
(On a side note, M46 has been a god-send Russian system for us, much like the Mig 21. It has lived past it’s age and still keeps running like a champ.)
Medium Artillery
When it came to medium artillery, India traditionally maintained heavy superiority against Pakistan with its 130mm and 122 mm cannons. Given Indian Army has decided to pull back all of it’s 122mm guns, Indian medium artillery looks abysmally weak in the comparison to Pakistani medium artillery. India has about 720 M46 130mm medium guns left in service, whereas Pakistan’s 130mm M46 clones and 122 mm variants stand at a staggering 1243 units, almost 500 more medium guns than India.

And this ratio will continue to skew as we eat into long range M46’s and turn them into short range 155mm upgrade. Another aspect t note is Pakistani army’s Type 54 is a 21 Caliber (Length) gun, i.e it’s shorter and highly mobile gun. India on the other hand has chosen not to field any short range, highly mobile medium sized gun which can be used for border escalations.

Light Artillery
The only area where India posses an edge is in the light artillery with is indigenous 105mm work horses IFG and LFG units. India posses about 2400 field guns compared to 1643 guns comprising of 105 mm, 85mm and quarter pounders that Pakistan fields.


One of the major advantages of the Indian Field Guns is the barrel length of 37 Caliber which is longer than all of the comparable 105mm Pakistani light Artillery, which gives it a significant range advantage. Also the Light Field Gun is highly mobile and offsets the portability of the 85mm guns of the adversary. This is one area where Indian army truly outguns the opposition in both range, effectiveness and inventory.
Future State
Indian Army seems to have made up it’s mind on consolidating 155 mm in different length-calibers as it mainstay in towed artillery. A 1600 towed gun contract seems to point at the same. Given Pakistans 155mm and Medium gun combined strength will stand at around 1900 guns in next 3–5 years, if Indian army want’s to pitch a 2:1 ratio it will need a combined strength of atleast 4000 guns.
Gap Analysis
As the 155mm inventory strength today stands at a measly 380 units, Indian establishment will still have a shortfall of about 2000 guns if it wants to get to a 1:2 ratio vis-a-vis Pakistan. With consolidation large and medium artillery Indian Army will need substantial efforts in converting most of it’s m46 fleet with a proven barrel solution for the Beas/Metamorphosis Program which can add another 700 odd 155 mm modified guns to the inventory. the 1600 towed artillery system will need a revamp or even an introduction of another system along side the one chosen to get similar advantages as we have gained in local production of IFG and LFG guns. Given that India doesn’t struggle in the Light Artillery, upgrade programs on 105mm LGF, along with catapult and kalyani Garuda ultralight guns can turn the Light Artillery into more efficient unit.
Conclusion
Indian Artillery is in extremely poor state, and the red tape with acquisition of artillery system has put the lifes of our soldiers to risk. Given that half of the medium artillery is out of commission, and prime front line FH77/B fleet has been cannibalized to half it’s size, it is of utmost importance to fast track both the development and the acquisition Processes for the towed artillery. Success story of the 105mm light Artillery has already set the precedence for Indian Army to follow local production of artillery system to be replicated in the 155mm category.

Written by @Milspec


Nice Comparison. Excellent piece of work.....lol
 
T

Tarun

#update


Another shot in the arm came when DAC under the aegis of Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman cleared the Limited Series Production (LSP) of 40 ATAGS. A proud moment for DRDO indeed. ‘Failure is the stepping stone of success’ and these releases have proved that no amount of failure can deter us from achieving the impossible. I am proud of all the team members for their dedicated efforts, restoring faith of the nation in our capabilities. “Well done friends, keep it up”. You still have miles to go. Rejuvenate and move ahead with new energy, new vision and new goals.

official Source: https://www.drdo.gov.in/drdo/pub/newsletter/2017/dec_17.pdf
 
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ni8mare

Well-Known member
Dec 7, 2017
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India
Indigenous artillery gun ATAGS to undergo winter trials in Sikkim
http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-new ... LyLXJ.html

21 Dec 2017, Rahul Singh

The 155mm 52-calibre ATAGS set a record during trials in Rajasthan’s Pokhran in September, firing shells to a range of 48 km.

A locally made gun is set to undergo crucial trials in January at a time when the army has sharpened its focus on its long-delayed artillery modernisation program. The indigenous 155mm 52-calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the private sector, will kick off winter trials in the Sikkim sector, a senior army officer said. The ATAGS set a record during trials in Rajasthan’s Pokhran in September, firing shells to a range of 48 km, against army’s requirement of 40 km. The defence ministry sanctioned the ATAGS project in September 2012 and the DRDO has partnered with Bharat Forge and Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) SED to develop two prototypes of the towed artillery guns. The two prototypes underwent their maiden structural stability trials in December 2016 at Proof & Experimental Establishment, a government test facility at Balasore in Odisha. A letter of intent has been given to the DRDO for 150 ATAGS, an army source said. The value of DRDO-developed/upgraded systems inducted into the armed forces during the last three years stands at Rs 1.1 lakh crore, the government told Lok Sabha on Wednesday. These systems do not include strategic weapons.

The army’s field artillery rationalisation plan (FARP), cleared in 1999, lays down the roadmap for inducting new 155mm weaponry, including tracked self-propelled guns, truck-mounted gun systems, towed artillery pieces and wheeled self-propelled guns. The Rs 50,000-crore FARP seeks to equip 169 artillery regiments with a mix of nearly 3,000 guns over the next decade. The army is looking to induct another indigenously developed 155mm 45-calibre towed artillery gun called Dhanush. But the programme has been delayed as the gun was involved in mishaps during trials. (Here, 155 mm denotes the diameter of the shell and calibre relates to barrel length.) The force is awaiting a report on an accident involving its new M777 ultra-light howitzer. The BAE Systems-manufactured gun was partly damaged when a 155mm artillery round misfired and exploded in its barrel during a drill at the Pokhran firing ranges in September. The M777 order is the first contract for artillery guns in almost 30 years after the Bofors scandal unfolded in the late 1980s. India signed the Rs 5,000-crore deal with the US in November 2016 for 145 howitzers.
 

Milspec

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Terrible State of Indian Artillery - Self Propelled Artillery
Self Propelled Artillery


Self propelled artillery provides mobility along with crew protection for advancing troops, one of the pivotal characteristics of the any fast moving strike corp to back it's infantry and armored brigade. Towed artillery is already in poor shape but the status of Self Propelled Guns is purely shocking.

Current State:

Indian Army's self propelled artillery consisted of two formats of weapon systems, Conventional SPG's which superficially resemble tanks, but can provide light resistance against small arms and sharpnell, and a unique take on mobile artillery dubbed catapult, where a howitzer is stabilized and mounted on a tank chassis. 2S1 Gvozdika and the FV433 Abbot SPG formed the backbone of the conventional Self propelled gun, whereas the limited numbers of the m46 howitzer mated with the Vijyanta tank chassis formed it's catapult wing.

Following is the head to head comparison with the Pakistani Army Mobile Artillery outfit:








As of now compared to the 325 Self propelled Guns that Pakistan's Army fields, India has ZERO guns. All of the 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm howitzers along the 122mm towed howitzers have been withdrawn from service, and the Vickers FV433 too has been retired due to lack of spares. So the ratio as of now stands 325:0, and that is the reality of much touted conventional superiority.

Gap Analysis:

With a minimum of 1:3 ratio against Pakistan Indian Army should have had at-least 975 Self Propelled Guns to be able to support forward deployment of mobile artillery units. India also needs multiple caliber strengths to ensure high mobility as well as cross country capability of the platforms. The interim solution was to build the Bhim SPG - essentially a Arjun Chassis mounted with the Denel L52 G5 self contained turret with the same turret being mounted on tatra trucks as a wheeled solution. The second track was to build the m46 based catapult on the Arjun chassis. The Bhim SPG was scuttled due to allegations corruption and the Arjun Catapult disappeared mysteriously.


Future State:

Indian army has already selected the K9 Vajra - Techwin-L&T SPG as the replacement for the 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm. The rest would be filled by the "Mounted Gun System" a predominantly wheeled system which will bring contenders like the Tata 155 mounted gun - Which incidentally uses the same Denel L52 G5 turret which caused the Bhim to be cancelled. The system again is the same as was proposed by the OFB a decade back but in new avatar where it uses some targeting changes and a tata platform instead of the Tatra. Other contenders are the Kalyani Group/ELBIT Systems - Soltam, Larsen & Toubro/Nexter - Caesar, and the Punj Lloyd/Yugo 's - NORA. A few years ago incidentally the the towed versions of Soltam and G5 both failed accuracy trials of India, not that it says much as nature of Indian Army trails are always on the cusp of unrealistic. The acquisition plan falls straight at 800 mounted Guns + 100 SPG. The tracked self propelled gun, K9 Vajra's are on order, but the 800 mounted guns are again facing delays.

Solution Strategy:

155 MM Catapult : Along with the current acquisition plans another approach to plug the gap for the High Mobility artillery would be to re-evaluate the Arjun Catapult with the Metamorphosis 155mm gun, as the prototype of the system with the same gun with the 130mm version exists and has been tested. With more than 700 M46 guns available for upgrades, and mounting system available, a re-engineered catapult with 155 mm M46 gun on one of the best cross country chassis, would be a efficient solution. Given that road map of Indian army only has 100 tracked units an additional 200 tracked catapults would be a lethal solution to provide artillery cover to fast moving infantry and armored brigades.

Light Mobile Artillery - The effectiveness of the 105mm light field gun is renowned within the Indian army circles. Kalyani Group is offering such a solution with the Garuda, which is a highly mobile system and uses the OFB LFG as its primary gun. A mounted version of the 105 mm gun on a wheeled platform can provide a highly mobile light mobile artillery out fit which can keep up with the ultra fast moving Regimental battalions of the Brigade of Guards.

Conclusion: Indian Self Propelled Artillery has evaporated in to thin air, this is not just in tune with the depreciating artillery profile of the Indian Army, but an exception where an entire fleet has been decimated due to neglect, mismanagement, and weak planning. Scuttling of domestic projects like Bhim and Arjun catapult, along with long delays in making decisions, today has completely rendered the
forces at great disadvantage in face of war. This constant deterioration will dent the war fighting capabilities of Indian army which will take decades to rebuild and in the interim, and in contingency will have to pay with asymmetrical number of casualties, because of lack of proper equipment. If Indian Army continues with this culture of Institutional inaction, the so-called conventional superiority would be only in number of Infantry soldiers facing superior Pakistani Firepower, the results as we can imagine would be devastating...

South Asian Strategic Developments and Military Systems: Terrible State of Indian Artillery - Self Propelled Artillery
 

Shashank

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Dec 4, 2017
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Ban galore
Artillery gun Dhanush’s induction into Army delayed
After accidents during user exploitation trials of the gun, a Board of Inquiry is under way.
After accidents during the final phase of user exploitation trials, the induction of the Dhanush artillery gun into the Army has been delayed.

The Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish 155-mm Bofors howitzers, which India procured in the mid-1980s, based on its original designs.

“There were two accidents in May and July during user exploitation trials. A Board of Inquiry is under way to determine the cause of the incident. As part of it, there will be an investigative firing likely to take place next month,” a defence official said.

The upgrade is being done by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) based on the requirements of the Army. To a query from The Hindu, the Board said that the Army was satisfied with the Dhanush gun, but before accepting it, wanted to do a wider exploitation of six guns prior to the grant of the bulk production clearance.

“So far, the exploitations have been carried out satisfactorily in the Pokhran and Babina field firing ranges and the Leh high-altitude range with three guns at each location. Further, these six guns altogether were fired at Pokhran in May 2017 and July 2017. Defects in the muzzle brake have been found in two guns and investigations are under process,” U. Mukherjee, OFB spokesperson, said in a written reply.

Dr. Mukherjee said these six guns would be further offered to the Army for balance user exploitations likely by February-March 2018, after carrying out internal firings. “It is expected that BPC [bulk production clearance] will be accorded immediately after completion of the user exploitations,” he said.


Better range

Dhanush is a 155-mm, 45-calibre gun with a maximum range of 40 km in salvo mode compared to the 39-calibre, 27-km range of the original guns. “The user exploitation trials are almost over. They will be inducted in 2018,” another official said.

The Army, which has not inducted any new artillery guns since the Bofors guns, is keen on inducting Dhanush. Other deals too are in the pipeline.

A project management team is working on this project at the Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur, and the Army has decided not to shift its personnel till the project is complete.

“To ensure continuity of the project, approval from the Vice-Chief was taken for continuity of personnel till 2020.”

The Army has placed an initial order for 114 guns and is expected to order another 400 more. As per earlier plan, the first regiment with 18 guns was to be inducted by 2017-end and the remaining guns in batches of 36 and 60 by 2019.
 
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Ashwin

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High-altitude trials of indigenous gun

PUNE: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is all set to carry out high altitude (HA) trial of 155 mm 52-calibre advanced towed artillery gun system (ATAGS) in Sikkim next week.
ATAGS has been jointly developed by DRDO and the private sector. In September last year, it successfully cleared the desert trials.

A senior DRDO official told TOI on Wednesday, "We will carry out HA trial next week in Sikkim. A team of scientists from Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and the army team will carry out the trial together. The duration of trial is not yet fixed but it generally goes on for a few weeks."

DRDO had carried out deserts trials in Rajasthan in September last year and its scientists claimed that the trials achieved the desired results. In fact, ATAGS set a record during desert trials, firing shells to a range of 48km, against the army's requirement of 40 km, the DRDO sources informed.


"The HA trial is crucial and tough as the gun will have to perform in different weather and geographical conditions. During the trial, a large number of extended range full bore artillery ammunition will be fired from the gun," a senior DRDO official told TOI over phone from New Delhi on Wednesday.


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had sanctioned the ATAGS project in September 2012 and DRDO, in collaboration with Bharat Forge and Tata Power, has developed two prototypes of ATAGS. These prototypes underwent maiden structural stability trials in December 2016 at Proof and Experimental Establishment, a government test facility at Balasore in Odisha, the sources added.


After completing all the trials, the army will conduct its own trials and analyse each result. "If the army has a doubt on a particular aspect, it will be again revisited and corrected," the sources added.


ATAGS has an all-electric drive, an advantage over traditional hydraulic drives which exist in other towed guns. The electric drives of ATAGS helps in handling ammunition, opening and closing the breech mechanism and ramming the round into firing chamber. The gun is expected to be inducted into the Indian Army by 2020, DRDO sources said.
 

Schwifty

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Dec 24, 2017
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Army to get 40 artillery guns made by DRDO
Posted at: Feb 7, 2018, 2:07 AM
Last updated: Feb 7, 2018, 12:29 PM (IST)

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 6

In what will be a major boost to self-reliance for military equipment, the Ministry of Defence is set to give permission for procurement of the first lot of 40 artillery guns made by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in collaboration with two Indian manufacturers.

The guns called the Advance Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) performed “very well” in winter trials in Sikkim last week.


The Army has given its go-ahead after seeing the performance of the weapon. Any additions or improvements to the gun can be incorporated in later versions. This will include auto-loading of ammunition and certain other specifics like reduction of the weight of this 155 mm, 52-calibre gun

The MoD had sanctioned the ATAGS project in September 2012 and the DRDO partnered with Bharat Forge and Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) SED to develop two prototypes of the towed artillery guns. A prototype was part of the Republic Day Parade in 2017.

The Army is looking at hundreds of such guns. India had not ordered any new 155 MM artillery guns since March 1986 when 410 pieces of the Swedish company Bofors’ FH-77B 155mm/39 calibre howitzer were purchased for Rs 1,500 Crore. However, in the past 24 months, the ATAGS is the third artillery gun that is set to be purchased or made.

Rs 900-cr project

  • The guns, called Advance Towed Artillery Gun System, performed “very well” in trials in Sikkim last week
  • The MoD has now asked the DRDO to move the proposal for procurement and get the production rolling
  • This will cost around Rs 900 crore even as the finance wing of the MoD wants a price check
Source :Army to get 40 artillery guns made by DRDO
 

ni8mare

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Dec 7, 2017
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India
  • Configuration and functionality of Guided Pinaka was proven for 65 km and 75 km range.
  • PSQR-based user trials of family of new munition Vaibhav and Vishal were also conducted successfully.
  • Armaments cluster carried out technical trials of Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS), G1 and G2, developed with private industry Kalyani Group and Tata Power.
  • Orders for G3 and G4 has been placed and the guns will be offered for the User Assisted Technical Trials (UATT) and User Trials (UT) around June and September 2018, respectively.
https://www.drdo.gov.in/drdo/pub/newsletter/2018/feb_18.pdf
 
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Ashwin

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Bang for the buck?

Howitzers booming in Sikkim near the China border would normally be cause for alarm, especially after last year's tense 73-day standoff on the Doklam plateau. But last month, it was an occasion to celebrate. Two indigenously designed, developed and manufactured (IDDM) howitzers successfully concluded high-altitude trials at the army's firing ranges situated at 12,000 feet near the Tibetan plateau. The two gun prototypes, G1 and G2, shot hundreds of shells across the test range to meet consistency and accuracy trials. It hasn't been an easy process, the DRDO-designed and private sector-produced guns have had to fight for development funds and protect themselves against competition from imported platforms.

A breakthrough came last November when the DRDO got the defence ministry to agree to strike down the licensed production of 1,100 imported 155 mm / 52 caliber artillery guns (155 is the width or bore of the barrel, 52 the multiple of the bore which gives the barrel length, in this case an 8-metre barrel) in favour of the ATAGS, short for Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System.

The DRDO has said that it had no objection to the army's import of 480 towed artillery guns, a 1.8 billion dollar contract for which France's Nexter and Israel's Elbit are in contest. But if the guns were licence-produced, as the original contract mandated, it would endanger ATAGS. "We are following the spiral development mode for ATAGS and we will meet all the GSQRs (General Staff Qualitative Requirements) of the imported guns the army is planning to procure," says DRDO chairman S Christopher.

On February 1, just a day after the trials in Sikkim had proved that the guns could deploy and fire in near-freezing temperatures and negotiate the sharp bends on the mountain roads, the DRDO boosted the programme by ordering six more guns worth Rs 60 crore from the manufacturers, Tata Power SED and Bharat Forge. The guns will be delivered to the army for trials by 2019.



But here's the catch. The Rs 20,000 crore, 1,100-howitzer order is in the distant future. Getting there would need more development support in the form of more prototypes and funding. Hence, in the interim, the DRDO and private developers want the army to place orders for at least two regiments: 40 guns for Rs 900 crore to be split between its private producers. This order, developers say, will provide the impetus to create manufacturing depth in the country and two gun production lines ready to churn out 1,000 guns each by 2021. The army, on the other hand, wants the gun to meet all its requirements before it places the order. While acknowledging the gun's huge technological strides, the army points out that it has not yet fully met the DRDO's own services qualitative requirements (SQRs). ATAGS has to pass three main tests of weight, accuracy and the ability to fire multiple rounds in quick succession before it can be considered for even a regiment's worth of orders.

Developers argue that the DRDO's SQRs are actually a quantum jump over the army's parameters for the imported towed artillery guns. ATAGS is aiming for ranges of close to 60 km, nearly double that of the first Bofors guns. It has all-electric drive as opposed to hydraulic drive, which means it can work at high altitudes without fears of the hydraulic liquid freezing.

TEAM INDIA

A cavernous shed on the outskirts of Karnataka's erstwhile gold mining district Kolar reverberates with the deep thrum of a diesel engine. Tata Power SED executives watch as the G1 prototype is put through its paces like a prized thoroughbred. The gun spins on its axis, making a black circle on the concrete floor. It then switches to electric drive - a battery operated 95 KW onboard motor to get into firing position, spread its trails and raise its barrel to a 45-degree angle.

"This gun is a true reflection of Team India," says Rahul Chaudhry, CEO, Tata Power SED and chairman, Defence Innovators and Industry Association. "It is indigenous technology and a project in the true spirit of public-private partnership with a young team of the development agencies (ARDE, which is the DRDO's Armament Research & Development Establishment, Tata Power SED and Bharat Forge) working together on a programme of national importance."

Just six years ago, the ATAGS was nothing more than a mesh of CAD-CAM lines at the ARDE laboratory in Pune. The project was sanctioned by the defence ministry in September 2012. Four years later, in September 2016, two firing prototypes -- Tata Power's G1 and Bharat Forge's G2 -- made their spectacular debuts. Both prototypes shot out shells to a distance of 47 km at the Pokhran test ranges in Rajasthan. This is the distance between New Delhi and Gurugram, a world record for their class of howitzers which usually fire a shell to around 40 km. In the thin air of the mountains, its designers say, the shells can easily achieve a 25 per cent range addition. The ATAGS is a feat of frugal engineering capabilities. It was developed for a modest project cost of Rs 282 crore, sanctioned to the DRDO in 2014 (for a comparison, India's moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, cost Rs 386 crore in 2011).

The stakes for all the key players in the ATAGS programme are enormous. For the DRDO, which has been severely criticised by the armed forces for delayed weapons development, it is a chance to deliver a world-class system in a reasonable timeframe. The programme is also a litmus test for the government's flagging Make in India initiative-the reason it has found an enthusiastic proponent in defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Structurally, the howitzer has changed very little in over a century. The principle remains the same-a shell is spun out through a grooved steel barrel in a high trajectory to fall on its target. The addition of modern electronics and computers-automated gun alignment and positioning systems, laser rangefinders and shells embedded with GPS systems-have made it the most cost-effective way to deliver ordnance over a 50 km range. A surface-to-surface missile like the Prithvi, for instance, costs Rs 10 crore. A single 155 mm shell weighing 50 kg costs just Rs 10 lakh. The programme promises to be a large scale industrial multiplier and job creator. Tata Power SED alone has over 40 principal partners and over 220 supply chain vendors in this project. This is where ATAGS has made its mark. Over 80 per cent of the firm's G-1 prototype has been sourced locally (see graphic). A key indigenous breakthrough-a sophisticated high-strength barrel made by Bharat Forge using autofrettage technology-is used in both prototypes. The howitzer borrows from the proven PPP model used in the only two Indian designed, developed and manufactured (IDDM) weapons systems-the Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher produced by L&T and Tata Power SED, and the Akash missile produced by DRDO, Bharat Dynamics Ltd and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).



TAGS, which could become a third such IDDM system, comes at a time when the army's howitzer arm is awash with new acquisitions after nearly three decades of sloth following the 1987 Bofors bribery scandal. The slowdown was surprising, given the decisive role they played during the 1999 Kargil War-even Pakistan army accounts admit that a majority of its 453 casualties were caused by Indian artillery. The role of artillery in any future Kargil-like conflict will continue to be vital. A classified section of the Lt Gen. Shekatkar committee report submitted to the defence ministry in December 2016 believes all future wars will be fought in the rugged Himalayas where all of India's disputed boundaries with Pakistan and China are.

The Indian army's Field Artillery Rationalisation Programme (FARP), approved in 1999, aims to equip its 169 artillery regiments (one regiment has 18 guns) with over 3,000 155 mm howitzers-towed, tracked, self-propelled, wheeled and ultra-light-by 2025. This Rs 50,000 crore plan is still decades away from realisation, but recent developments suggest it may finally be on track. In 2016 and 2017, the army signed orders for 145 ultralight howitzers from the US worth Rs 5,000 crore and 100 K-9 Vajra self-propelled 155 mm howitzers (howitzer-mounted tanks) from South Korea's Hanwha Techwin. These guns will be manufactured in India by Larsen & Toubro and delivered by 2022.

Another indigenous option has also opened up. Six prototypes of the Ordnance Factory Board's (OFB) 'Dhanush' -- an Indian copy of the Bofors FH-77B howitzers, but with a 7-metre-long barrel -- is under firing trials. If it passes, the OFB gets to manufacture for 19 regiments, a total of 414 guns. ATAGS's fight for development and funding comes amidst this onrush of what the army terms 'proven artillery systems'. At least some of the army's indifference can be explained in the fact that the service didn't ask for the gun to begin with. It was the DRDO which initiated the project in 2012 when it spotted an opportunity in the army's stalled howitzer programme-no guns being made indigenously and no imports coming.

"ATAGs is a promising system, but not a fully proven concept yet. It is still five years away from entering service," says Lt Gen. P. Ravi Shankar, former director-general, artillery. Even the OFB-made Bofors copy, the Dhanush, he points out, has its share of problems, which is why it has been in trials for over three years now.

The army has flagged several issues in ATAGS, which is why they say they are not ordering the gun yet. The gun weighs 20 tonnes, nearly 70 per cent over its 12-tonne weight limit. The weight restrictions are because most bridges in the mountainous forward areas are designed to bear 18-tonne loads. On the plains, too, the added weight can lead to mobility issues because the army's 6x6 artillery towing trucks are designed for 12-tonne guns. Inducting ATAGS in its present form would mean more investments in heavier trucks. The imported towed artillery pieces, they point out, weigh only 15 tonnes. The weight issue, the army points out, flows from the DRDO increasing the gun chamber's capacity-where the shell is actually ignited-from 22 litres to 25 litres. A larger chamber meant higher pressure and thus greater range but it increased the weight. It is also yet to demonstrate sustained firing "like an automatic rifle", an army officer says. "What we now have is the gun firing in single shot mode, like a bolt-action rifle."

Once ATAGS meets the DRDO requirements, it will begin a lengthy series of user trials under the MoD's WE (weapons and equipment) directorate, which will be followed by a certification by the Director General Quality and Assurance and, finally, a maintenance and evaluation of the system by the army's EME (Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers). The entire process has to be done serially and not parallelly, a reason why the army feels the ATAGS will take several more years for induction.

The developers say they plan to shave two more tonnes off the gun to bring its weight down to 18 tonnes. Besides, they say, the four-wheeled ATAGS is far more stable than the two-wheeled imported guns. The gun's advanced capabilities like the six-round automated magazine, which can fire a six-round burst in 30 seconds, are still under development and will come in subsequent prototypes. A case of not wanting to jump the gun.

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