What is the 21-gun salute tradition?
- When the National Anthem is played by the Military Band after the unfurling of the Tricolour at the Red Fort by the Prime Minister, a 21-volley gun salute is fired by a ceremonial battery from an artillery regiment.
- The tradition of gun salutes originates from the Western navies where guns from the ports and those from incoming ships used to be fired in a particular manner to convey that there was no belligerent intention.
- This tradition was carried forward as a way of paying respects or for according official welcome to the Crown, royals, military commanders and heads of states.
- India inherited the tradition from the British rulers who had gun salutes comprising 101 volleys, 31 volleys and 21 volleys, and so on depending on the hierarchy.
- In India, artillery gun salutes are fired on the Republic Day, the Independence Day and also at the time of oath taking ceremony of the President, among other occasions.
- Over the years, this 21-gun salute, which are blanks — was fired by the World War era howitzers of British make known as ‘Ordnance Quick Fire 25 Pounder’ or just ’25 Pounder’.
- Including the ATAGS in the symbolic activity of 21-gun salute is a crucial step in the journey and is significant towards its induction into the Army.
About the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)-
- It is an indigenous 155 mm x 52 calibre howitzer gun developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with its Pune-based facility Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) being the nodal agency.
- The ATAGS project was started in 2013 by DRDO to replace older guns in service in the Indian Army with a modern 155 mm artillery gun. The ARDE has collaborated with Bharat Forge Limited and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd for the manufacturing of this specialised gun system.
- Howitzers is an umbrella term for a category of long-range artillery guns.
- The ATAGS was used alongside the traditional British-origin ’25 Pounders’ artillery guns.
- The armament system of ATAGS mainly comprises barrel, breech mechanism, muzzle brake and recoil mechanism to fire 155 mm calibre ammunition held by Army with a longer range, accuracy and precision and provides greater firepower.
- The ATAGS is configured with all electric drive to ensure maintenance free and reliable operation over a longer period of time.
- It has advanced features in terms of high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system with night firing capability in the direct fire mode.
- It is compatible with C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) systems like the Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS) called Shakti for technical fire control, fire planning, deployment management, and operational logistics management of the Army.
- The development process of ATAGS by the DRDO coincides with development of Howitzer Dhanush for Advanced Weapons and Equipment India of the erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board.
- The system is currently undergoing an evaluation by the Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) marking its final stage before the Army places orders for it.
- The DGQA is a nodal agency for the quality assurance of all arms, ammunition, equipment and stores supplied to the Armed Forces.