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Armenia Orders 84 more Indian ATAGS Artillery Guns Amid Azerbaijan Tensions; May Acquire ATAGS Before Indian Army – Reports

Source : The EurAsian Times

Armenia Orders 84 more Indian ATAGS Artillery Guns Amid Azerbaijan Tensions; May Acquire ATAGS Before Indian Army – Reports
Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) designed by DRDO and manufactured by Bharat Forge subsidiary Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited (KSSL) and TATA Advanced Systems Limited (TASL)

As the tenuous peace in the South Caucasus is hanging by a thread, Azerbaijan and Armenia are heavily arming themselves. In the latest acquisition drive, Armenia has reportedly placed an order for the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) from India. These guns are considered to be the best in their category and can be deployed at high altitudes.

This procurement report has come even as the Indian Army is yet to finalize the contract for these guns that will be deployed along its border with China, an official confirmed to the EurAsian Times.

The Indian Army intends to order 310 of this indigenously developed artillery gun system. The guns have been the result of collaboration between the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Bharat Forge Limited, and Tata Advanced Systems Limited.

EurAsian Times contacted relevant authorities for official confirmation. Neither accepting nor denying the reports, the official, who wished to stay anonymous, said a formal reply could be expected next week. EurAsian Times will update the story.

Armenia had earlier ordered an MArG 155 wheeled self-propelled howitzer from Kalyani Forge India. In 2023, Armenia ordered six of these ATAGS. Now, it wants to procure 84 more ATAGS under US $155 million.

These ATAGS are designed for high mobility and rapid deployment. They have advanced communication systems and automatic command and control systems.

The ATAGS will replace the obsolete Soviet-vintage D-30 towed 122mm howitzers and 2A65 Msta-B 152 mm towed howitzers. Its high-altitude operability makes it ideal for Armenian forces. Armenia will be the first export customer of the ATAGS, which will open more export opportunities for India.

The Indian Army has already field-tested these guns in Pokhran, Balasore, and Sikkim, with temperatures ranging between -15 degrees Celsius and 50 degrees Celsius. The 155/52 mm caliber towed gun is an all-weather and terrain system. These howitzers can strike targets up to 50 kilometers, making them the best guns in their class. They can fire a burst of 5 rounds in 60 seconds and at a sustained rate of up to 60 rounds in 60 minutes.

The system’s field trials are over, and the finalization of the contract is facing some procedural delays.

In 2016, India purchased 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers from the US. The Indian Army needs these guns to replace the aging artillery in its inventory.

The ATAGS project was launched in 2013. In the early stages, the DRDO’s Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) partnered with Bharat Forge Limited and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) to manufacture the specialized guns, which were unveiled in 2022.

After the field trials, Bharat Forge’s CMD Baba Kalyani has said: “At the very first, the ATAGS is set to be the most advanced and the first gun in the world which can fire Bi-Modular Charge System (BMCS) zone 7.”

BMCS has been an important parameter during the trials. It means the gun is capable of firing Lower Zones for shorter ranges and Higher Zones for longer ranges.

India Emerges Key Defense Exporter To Armenia

Armenian intelligence indicates that Azerbaijan, armed with Turkish and Pakistani weapons, is planning a “full-scale war.” The Armenian response will be scripted by newly acquired Indian and French weapon systems.

Armenia has almost doubled its defense investments over the last year. In 2022, the spending was around US$700 million to US$800 million; now, in 2024, it will be US $1.4 billion or US $1.5 billion. The defense contracts with India alone account for a billion dollars.

Tensions between the two Caucasian countries have been high since Azerbaijan recaptured the Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023 in a surprise military action.

The territory is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but a large swathe of its land is under Armenian administration and the casus belli for one of the longest-running conflicts in the world.

Nagorno-Karabakh has a majority of the Armenian population and has declared independence.

Armenia has equipped itself with Indian-made Pinaka MBRLS (considered at par with American HIMARS) and an anti-drone system. The Pinaka was delivered to Armenia via Iran in 2023.

PINAKA missile system India Armenia
Enhanced PINAKA rocket, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, in Odisha on November 04, 2020.

The news was not received well by the Baku leadership. Pinaka Mk-1 is a free-flight artillery rocket area bombardment system with a range of 38 kilometers, quick reaction time, and a high rate of fire. A single Pinaka system fires a salvo of 12 rockets from a multi-barrel launcher in 44 seconds, while a battery can fire 72 rockets.

India developed the Pinaka system as a replacement for the Russian GRAD BM-21, which is also present in the Armenian armed forces. Another important reason for Armenia’s choice was apprehension that Azerbaijan would deploy a greater number of drones, including suicide drones.

Armenia has also purchased an Indian-built surface-to-air missile (SAM) Akash. Akash is a short-range SAM system manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) to protect vulnerable areas and points from air attacks. The Akash Weapon System (AWS) can simultaneously engage Multiple Targets in Group Mode or Autonomous Mode.



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