New Delhi/Pune: (Defence News) If all goes well, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) being developed by Bharat Forge may soon be up for sale to Indian Army. Named as Bharat 52, the ATAGS(155mm x 52 Calibre) is part of the import embargo list issued by Ministry of Defence. Deputy Managing Director of Bharat Forge Amit Kalyani has announced that one of four artillery guns developed by Bharat Forge has reached final trials stage. "We have gone through four sets of trials for the first gun and three sets of trials for the second gun. Once the last phase of trials is over we are ready for the sale process to begin," he said a recent analyst call after the announcement of Bharat Forge's June quarter financial results, news website Moneycontrol.com reported.
Bharat 52 is considered to be one of the most advanced field artillery systems in the world but India is yet to induct them. In 2016 India ordered 145 howitzers (also an artillery gun) from the US for $750 million. The 155mm x 39 calibre ultra-light howitzers have a range of 24-39 km, which is much lower than that of the Bharat 52 ATAGS. Bharat 52 has a firing range of more than 48 km and has a self-propelled ground speed of 20 km per hour. The ATAGS that weighs 15 tonnes, can fire six rounds in 30 seconds.
"All the products that we are making are 100 percent local — they are 100 percent designed, engineered and developed locally. Three artillery guns are in advanced stages of testing. One is in the final stage of testing — it has gone through all the tests; it is the user test which is now going on this month," Amit Kalyani said. Reportedly, the Indian Army is looking to procure about 150 ATAGS. Depending on the add-ons and the level of technology, each ATAGS can be priced up to Rs 15 crore, Kalyani mentioned.
"The products that we have focussed on, all of them are meant for domestic manufacturing. And in certain products such as artillery guns, it is very clear that there is nobody as competitive as us either in technology or on an overall basis, so we are looking forward to the conclusion of our final trials," he added.
Bharat Forge is following what it calls a three-horizon strategy. Horizon One has products such as artillery guns, some armoured vehicles, and some speciality vehicles. Horizon Two also has speciality vehicles. Horizon Three has electronics and high-end technology.
"Now, based on the announcements, we will deepen our capability within these product segments and add strength in areas that we need. But I do not think we are going to go into newer areas like building ships" said Kalyani.
Bharat Forge is also looking for markets outside India for its military hardware. But, with riders. "Selling defence items to a responsible nation like India is easy. Now, there are many countries that buy weapons where we do not know what they do with it. India has never been an aggressor anywhere, so I want to sell to places where it is safe to sell and where it is advisable to sell." said Kalyani.
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