In a first, indigenous ATAGS to be part of 21-gun salute on Independence Day

The 155-mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System.

The 155-mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System. | Photo Credit: AP

In a first, an indigenous artillery gun, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), will be used along with the usual 25-Pounders for the 21-gun salute during the Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort this year.

“The initiative to use this indigenously developed gun will stand as a testament to India’s growing capacity of developing arms and ammunition indigenously. The gun has been specifically customised both in terms of blank firing and sound attributes so that it will be useful for ceremonial purposes,” Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said, briefing the media on this year’s celebrations.

Since Independence, the ceremonial 21-gun salute is accorded by seven vintage Quick Fire 25 Pounder guns which fire blank rounds as the National Anthem is played after the hoisting of the National Flag by the Prime Minister.

This year, in addition to the 25-Pounders, as they are popularly known, one ATAGS will be used, Mr. Kumar said. 

The ATAGS is a 155 mm, 52 calibre heavy artillery gun jointly developed by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), the Pune-based laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in partnership with Bharat Forge and Tata Group. In May, the gun successfully completed validation trails towards meeting the specifications of the Army and is now ready for induction.

Speaking on the other highlights of the celebrations, Mr. Kumar said a Special Youth Exchange Programme is being organised for the first time this year and cadets from 14 countries have been invited to join the celebrations along with NCC cadets from August 9 to 17. “A total of 127 youth have been selected through a competition organised in different countries, in which lakhs of students participated,” Mr. Kumar said.

A total of 26 officers/supervisors and 127 cadets from the U.S., the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Fiji, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, The Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Seychelles, UAE and Uzbekistan are taking part in the event.

Apart from attending the main event at Red Fort, the youth will be visiting places of cultural and historical importance in Delhi and Agra, the Defence Ministry said. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh interacted with the visiting teams on Wednesday evening.

In addition, as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, NCC cadets from all districts of the country have been invited to attend the main event at Red Fort, Mr. Kumar said.

Mr. Kumar said in continuation to the initiative taken during Republic Day in 2022, the section of society, which is usually overlooked, has been invited as special guests for Independence Day as well. These include anganwadi workers, street vendors, mudra scheme borrowers and mortuary workers. 

In another, Mr. Singh will be felicitating 25 winners of the Veer Gatha contest in New Delhi on August 12. Veer Gatha was launched to inspire and spread awareness among children about the gallant deeds and sacrifices of the armed forces, the Ministry said. It held nationwide contest, from October 21 to November 20, 2021, which saw the participation of more than eight lakh students from 4,788 schools. 

The second edition of Veer Gatha is all scheduled to be launched in September 2022, Mr. Kumar added.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 6:43:07 am |