The Indian Army (IA) is expected to successfully complete user trials of the 155 mm/52 calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) within the next two months: a move that would pave the way to start series production of India's first locally designed howitzer.
Industry sources told Jane's that two different prototypes of the ATAGS, which was jointly developed by the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and private-sector companies Tata Power SED, Bharat Forge and Kalyani Strategic Systems, have been undergoing trials with the IA since 24 May at Pokhran in India's north-western desert region.
They said that once these trials are completed around July, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will issue a request for proposals to both Tata Power, which provided the 'G1' prototype, and Bharat Forge, which provided the 'G2' prototype, for the supply of 150 guns for the IA for an estimated INR36.65 billion (USD524 million). The MoD's Defence Acquisition Council had approved the ATAGS procurement in August 2018.
Thereafter, one of two howitzer prototypes, either Tata Power's G1 or Bharat Forge's G2, is expected to be shortlisted for procurement based on performance and commercial bids.
Officials said the lowest bidder, or L1, will be awarded a contract to build 100 of the 150 ATAGSs while the runner-up will be allowed to manufacture the remaining 50 guns (of the same model) in what will be India's first-ever public-private partnership (PPP) project in the defence sector.
The ATAGS programme was launched in 2013 by the DRDO's Armament Research & Development Establishment to boost the IA's depreciated artillery profile. In September 2017 the gun set a local record by firing three shells, reportedly undisclosed model high-explosive base bleed (HE-BB) projectiles, to a distance of 47.2 km at Pokhran.
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