In a first, an indigenous artillery gun, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), will be used along with the usual 25-Pounders for the 21-gun salute during the Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort this year. The initiative to use this indigenously developed gun will stand as a testament to India’s growing capacity of developing arms and ammunition indigenously. The gun has been specifically customised both in terms of blank firing and sound attributes so that it will be useful for ceremonial purposes. TheHindu reported that since Independence, the ceremonial 21-gun salute is accorded by seven vintage Quick Fire 25 Pounder guns which fire blank rounds as the National Anthem is played after the hoisting of the National Flag by the Prime Minister. This year, in addition to the 25-Pounders, as they are popularly known, one ATAGS will be used.
The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is a towed 155 mm/52 calibre howitzer that is being developed for the Indian Army by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by Bharat Forge and Tata Power SED. The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) project was started in 2013 by DRDO to replace older guns in service in the Indian Army with a modern 155mm artillery gun. DRDO laboratory Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) partnered with private players Bharat Forge Limited, Mahindra Defence Naval System, Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division and public sector unit Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for this purpose. It was part of the Development cum Production Partner programme (DCPP) of DRDO. It was first publicly showcased at 68th Republic Day parade on 26 January 2017.
The gun consists of a barrel, breech mechanism, muzzle brake and recoil mechanism to fire 155 mm calibre ammunition with a firing range of 48 km. It has an all-electric drive to ensure reliability and minimum maintenance over a long period of time. It has advanced features like high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system with night capability in direct-fire mode. The gun is two tons lighter than guns in the same category and is designed to provide better accuracy and range and is capable of firing five successive rounds in short duration. It is compatible with C3I systems like Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS) called Shakti for technical fire control, fire planning, deployment management, operational logistics management of the Indian Army.