The modernization plan of the Indian Army to procure 3,000-3,600 howitzers by 2025-27 doesn’t revolve around Dhanush and ATAGS (Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System) as expected but around Israeli Elbit’s Autonomous Towed Howitzer Ordnance System (ATHOS) 155mm x 52 calibers towed artillery gun which Army is so hard lobbying for in past few years.

If Army has its say, deal for the supply of 400 guns and indigenous production of the remainder 1,180 guns by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), under a full Transfer of Technology (TOT) process might have been cleared by now over the indigenous ATAGS gun which Army claims is still not ready.

ATAGS which commenced Internal trials followed by Army trials will continue to be tested till 2025 as per the latest media reports. According to Army, ATAGS could not achieve certain parameters in summer trials that required further modifications but the same parameters were achieved by the ATHOS. Army also claims that ATHOS costs just 11 crores and is a lighter gun that meets the 15 tons requirement, whereas else ATAGS is 18 tons and could cost around 16 crores per gun.

User trials followed by modification requests followed by the next round of user trials are tried and tested formula of the Army when it doesn’t want something and has its eyes set on something else. ATAGS has been under some sort of firing trials from 2017 onwards and will continue till 2025 which seems to be a trailer for the repeat of the Arjun saga that we all watched since our childhood. Bureaucrats and Chandigarh lobby are running the show and the ” Made in India ” Sticker might be applied to ATHOS, sooner or later and ATAGS might be kept for ceremonial parades.

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Article by TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR , cannot be republished Partially or Full without consent from Writer or