Self-propelled gun MArG 155-BR
In recent years, the Indian defense industry not only provides for the needs of its own army, but also tries to look for foreign buyers for its products. In particular, self-propelled artillery guns of new types have certain export prospects. One combat vehicle of this kind has already found its customer, while others are participating in foreign tenders.
Since the beginning of the last decade, Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited (KSSL), part of Bharat Forge Limited and the Kalyani Group, has been developing modern and advanced artillery systems. To date, guns in calibers up to 155 mm have been created in towed and self-propelled versions. In particular, by the end of the tenth years, they developed and demonstrated a light 155-mm howitzer UHL - a kind of analogue of the American M777.
At the beginning of 2020, at one of the Indian exhibitions, KSSL for the first time showed promotional materials for a new project, designated as MArG 155-BR (Multi-terrain Artillery Gun). This project involved the construction of a self-propelled gun based on a serial automobile chassis and artillery units from the UHL system. At the end of next year, an official presentation of a full-fledged self-propelled gun, probably a prototype, took place at the Bharat Forge plant in Pune.
The development organization argued that the CAO MArG 155-BR has a great future and should be of interest to the customer. The product was shown to the command of the Indian Army, and it received high marks. However, things did not go further than praise. As far as is known, the self-propelled gun is still being tested, and the Indian ground forces have not yet made a decision on its introduction into service and purchase. Perhaps the necessary activities will be completed in the foreseeable future, and then the appropriate conclusions will be drawn.
Cannon on chassis
The product MArG 155-BR is a CAO made by mounting an artillery unit on a truck chassis. In general, it does not have any fundamental differences from a number of modern foreign models, although the use of a two-axle chassis is noted. The developer noted that this is the only modern 155-mm self-propelled gun with a barrel length of 39 klb, made on a 4x4 chassis.
The vehicle used in the project is equipped with an armored double-row cab with a cabover layout. The cargo platform is dedicated to the artillery system, ammunition, etc. The stern has a folding support plate. The total length of the combat vehicle in the stowed position does not exceed 9,4 m, the combat weight is 18 tons. The ability to quickly transfer along roads and work on rough terrain or off-road is declared.
The self-propelled gun is armed with a 155-mm 39-klb TC-20 gun system, a version of the UHL howitzer. A rifled barrel with a muzzle brake is mounted on recoil devices and guidance mechanisms. All-Steel prefabricated carriage elements are used (UHL carriage can also be made of titanium or have a mixed design). Horizontal guidance is provided within 25 ° from the longitudinal axis with an elevation of up to 72 °.
In boxes for ammunition MArG 155-BR transports 18 rounds of separate loading. The gun can make the first three shots in 30 seconds. The steady rate of long-term shooting is 42 rds / h. When using conventional projectiles, the range reaches the standard 24 km. Active-reactive ammunition increases this parameter.
In the international market
Apparently, KSSL / Bharat Forge from the very beginning planned to sell the MArG 155-BR product not only to their own army, but also to foreign customers. Advertising materials for this project were shown at various exhibitions, as well as applications were submitted for participation in foreign tenders. To date, the first results have been obtained in this area.
In early November 2022, Bharat Limited announced that its subsidiary KSSL received an export order for the production of 155-mm artillery systems. Several items worth $155,5 million will be manufactured and handed over to the customer over the next three years. At the same time, the exact type of guns, their number and recipient were not mentioned in the official message.
Self-propelled gun with ATAGS gun
Soon the Indian media received the missing data from their sources in the defense department. It was alleged that the customer under the new contract is Armenia, which wants to upgrade its artillery fleet. The subject of the order was a 155-mm SAO MArG 155-BR on a two-axle chassis.
At the end of July 2023, the Indian side reported on the shipment of the first batch of unnamed products to a foreign customer. According to some reports, we can talk about MArG 155-BR self-propelled guns or about ammunition for them. One way or another, the contract, presumably, with Armenia was signed almost a year ago, and we can already expect its first results.
Since 2013, Bharat Forge, together with Tata, commissioned by the defense development organization DRDO, has been creating a promising 155-mm howitzer ATAGS (Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System). Testing of this product began in 2016 and ended in 2022. The issue of its purchase for the Indian army is now being decided.
In October last year, development organizations showed for the first time a self-propelled version of such a weapon. The ATAGS artillery unit, characterized by greater weight and size, was installed on a four-axle Ashok Leyland HMV chassis. The resulting model is said to be not inferior in mobility and fire characteristics to modern foreign self-propelled guns with similar weapons and chassis.
The MArG 155 based on the ATAGS gun is already applying for an export contract. Currently, the Brazilian ground forces are holding a tender for the purchase of 36 self-propelled guns in 155 mm caliber with a long barrel. Several well-known foreign companies submitted applications for the competition. In addition, it recently became known that the Indian Bharat Forge and KSSL will compete for the contract. Whether they will be able to beat their competitors will become known in the foreseeable future.
With enhanced performance
The self-propelled version of the ATAGS gun is similar in architecture to the MArG 155-BR and foreign models. However, there are differences associated with the use of a long-barreled gun and a different chassis. First of all, they manifest themselves in higher tactical and technical characteristics.
The HMV chassis is a four-axle all-wheel drive vehicle. It has a two-row protected cabin. An additional cabin is provided on the cargo platform, probably for fire control. The artillery system and base plate are located in the stern.
The ATAGS gun has improved firing characteristics. The firing range of a conventional projectile reaches 32 km, and an active-reactive projectile – 45 km. Horizontal aiming is carried out in the front sector with a width of 50°, vertical – up to 72°. The rate of fire of the self-propelled ATAGS is no different from the TC-20.
"Made in India"
Over the past few years, India has been implementing a major program to localize the production of various products, and the defense industry plays a special role in it. Defense enterprises are required to establish licensed production of foreign developments, as well as create their own designs. So, Bharat Forge, KSSL and other enterprises are trying to develop domestic artillery systems that are not inferior to foreign ones.
To date, the Indian industry has introduced a whole range of new artillery systems in different calibers and designs. Such weapons are being tested and should enter service with the Indian Army. In addition, new developments are now being introduced to the international market. The first export order for self-developed self-propelled guns has already been received, and another one is expected. It can be assumed that India will not stop there and will continue to develop a promising direction, hoping to rearm its own army and make money by re-equipping others.