New Delhi: A set of critical trials for the indigenous Advanced Towed Artillery Gun (ATAG) commenced this week to determine whether it meets standards of safety and performance desired by the army. The project will be reviewed after the tests, which will include firing in a variety of modes and terrains.
The project had received a setback in September last year after a barrel burst during tests at Pokharan, resulting in injuries to the personnel manning the system. The user assisted testing trials will last for three weeks, after which the army will decide whether the guns need to go through field evaluation trials at high altitude as well.
The ongoing tests are crucial for the indigenous gun but its design continues to be an issue, specially the non-standard chamber size of the ATAG which determines the size of the projectile it can fire. While NATO standard guns have a chamber size of 23 litres, the ATAG is designed for 25 litres, giving it a slightly extended range of 48 km.
However, this non-standard chamber could limit export options for the gun in the future, as it would require bespoke ammunition since firing of standard rounds could pose a safety issue. The September accident is still under investigation but officials said the extended chamber size exerts extra strain on current ammunition, posing a risk to the user.
A clearer picture is expected to emerge after the current set of tests, which will include direct fire in day and night on tank sized targets, sustained firing of 60 rounds per hour, tests for five round bursts and a rapid fire rate of 15 rounds in three minutes.