The Towed Artillery Gun System is to be procured under the ‘Buy and Make’ category. The indigenous Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and Dhanush are being built, however, a separate process for supply of 400 guns and indigenous production of the remainder, 1,180 guns by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), under a full Transfer of Technology (TOT) process. The main contenders were Israel’s Elbit Systems and France’s Nexter. Elbit’s Autonomous Towed Howitzer Ordnance System (ATHOS) emerged in the lead due to performance and cost. The cost Elbit Gun is about Rs 11 crore per piece, significantly lower than the estimated cost of the ATAGS, which is said to be anywhere between Rs 16-18 crore. Elbit has a joint venture (JV) with Bharat Forge, the Israeli and the technology and design will be fully transferred to the JV and OFB, enabling the ATHOS to be mass-produced in India.
Although this category was in the first negative import list but the provisions deferred till December 2021. The second defence negative import list, is expected to be out soon, and we need to see if the 155mm x 52 calibre towed artillery gun is on it.