Monday, 23 October 2017

Metallurgy skills are Kalyani Group’s springboard to defence production

The Kalyani Group's Bharat 52 gun, which is undergoing test firing at present

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 23rd Oct 17

Indian engineers, who struggled for decades to design high-tech weaponry like the Tejas fighter and Arjun tank, are enjoying unusually quick success in developing what promises to be a world-class artillery gun.

At firing trials on September 4, prominent defence firm, Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division), was cock-a-hoop when its Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) fired three shells to a world-record 47.2 kilometres – three kilometres longer than contemporary guns.

But Tata Power (SED)’s record lasted just one day.

The next morning, a second ATAGS gun, which the Kalyani Group has built according to a parallel development strategy, broke that record by achieving a range of just over 48 kilometres.

Both guns achieved this record-breaking performance with “high explosive – base bleed” (HE-BB) ammunition, which is optimised for longer ranges.

The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), which conceived and designed the 155-millimetre, 52-calibre ATAGS, has fed the design to Tata Power (SED) and the Kalyani Group. Based on those requirements, the two companies have built and are test-firing competing gun prototypes.

While Tata Power (SED) has worked with the DRDO earlier, the new partnership with Kalyani Group is proving to be an inspired choice. The Pune-based firm has engineered a barrel and breech so good that the Tatas are using it in their gun as well.

While Kalyani Group is relatively new to modern defence systems that incorporate advanced information technology, its flagship company, Bharat Forge – the world’s largest forgings manufacturer – is a global leader in metallurgy expertise.

Metallurgy is fundamental to any defence industry, since it underpins the construction of guns, armoured platforms and warships. The 430-year-old German metals giant, Krupp, spearheaded the emergence of Germany’s defence industry, and leads it even today. The Kalyani Group believes it can do the same for India.

Says the Kalyani Group’s hard charging supremo, Babasaheb (Baba) Kalyani: “Our basic technology competence lies in metallurgy. We make our steel, we forge it, we machine it, we heat treat it. Very few companies in the world can match our skills in products like gun barrels.”

Over the years, Kalyani Group has integrated upstream as well as downstream from Bharat Forge. Pune-based Kalyani Carpenter and Kalyani Steels make alloy steel for the ATAGS barrel. Another group company, Mysore-based Automotive Axles, specialises in “drive lines”, on which the gun is mounted. A high-tech fabrication shop in Satara assembles the gun.

Business Standard visited the Kalyani Group facility in Pune, where the company is developing several artillery systems at its own cost, in order to develop skills. The guns are built in an artillery factory bought from Swiss defence firm, RUAG, and shipped in entirety from Austria to Pune.

Its produces include the 155-millimetre, 52 calibre Bharat 52, which is undergoing test firing; a 45 calibre version of the same gun; a truck-mounted 105-millimetre gun called the Garuda, which the army found so promising it financed it through the Army Technology Board; and a 155-millimetre, 39 calibre, titanium ultra-light howitzer that Kalyani is pitching against the BAE Systems M777 gun that India has contracted for.

“The Indian Army has already bought 145 M777 guns. But, by March [2018], my indigenous ultra-light howitzer will be ready to compete with the BAE Systems gun”, promises Kalyani.

Kalyani Group engineers who work on ATAGS say its exceptional range stems from its larger chamber – 25 litres, compared to 23 litres in similar guns. This allows the gun to be fired with more explosive, propelling the warhead further. To absorb the higher “shock of discharge”, Kalyani Group says it has built its barrel and breech with a complex new metallurgy.

Making ATAGS an easy-to-handle gun is an unprecedented all-electric system, in which machinery does what gun crews do manually in other guns: handling heavy ammunition, ramming it into the chamber and opening and closing the heavy breech.

Its one-of-a-kind, six-round “automated magazine” loads and fires a six-round burst in just 30 seconds. Most other guns in service have three-round magazines that must be reloaded after firing three rounds.

Firing off six rounds in 30 seconds is an important capability since artillery causes most casualties in the initial burst of fire, which catches enemy soldiers in the open. Once they dive into their trenches, artillery fire is less effective.

“The ATAGS team has created a new benchmark in artillery. For decades, no new artillery gun has been designed anywhere in the world. This is the first gun in 30 years designed afresh, from scratch”, points out Baba Kalyani.

The next test for the gun is “cold weather trials” in Sikkim in December. Before then, the gun will undergo some modifications. To expedite trials, Tata Power (SED) and Kalyani Group will start the building of three more ATAGs prototypes.

7 comments:

Fasih Ahmed said...

Very useful info for a serving gunner.

sudhir virulkar said...

Great News. Make in India.

Anonymous said...

What a huge blow for the OFB!!! It is heartening to see that the Private Sector defence players are off to a flying start. And while it'll not always be a smooth sailing, they are certainly expected to outperform the Defence PSUs by a huge margin. Best of Luck to them all.

Anonymous said...

Col shukla,your article on reduction of disability pension for soldiers resulted in its restoration .You may like to write an article on the abolishing of condiments allowance for soldiers.The same has been done as per the recommendations of the 7th CPC with the result that soldiers today are paying out of their pockets be it in field or peace to buy condiments.Navy does not face such a problem as they are authorized condiments in their ration scale whereas in the case of army it was allowance in lieu as per an Army instruction which has not been repealed till date by MoD.You may refer to table 1 of Scale of rations & supplies 2006(available on the net),allowances committee report ,7th cpc allowances gazette notification and 7th cpc report(available on dept of expenditure website).The political leadership and the Army top brass in spite of their tall claims about their concern about the welfare of soldiers are absolutely oblivious to the problems of their soldiers.

Ravi Grover said...

Col Shukla , extremely interesting News but unfortunately not publicized by our very erudite Press(Print and Electronic Media). Is it because it showcases the Country's Positivism?

ashok said...

The Indian army must encourage and get these guns to be productionised fast and must not waste to much time for cold winter trials . Massive production facilities of kalyani ,Tatas and INDIAN ORDNANCE FACTORIES must be put to use to produce a total of over 4000 guns various types required for the army within 7 to 10 years .

Seshan Ranganathan said...

Dear Ajai Shukla,

Am your follower on Twitter. As a layman I find myself deeply interested in what you have to say on defence and strategic issues. I also happen to be the Executive Editor of TISA, a monthly magazine I edit for the Chamber of Small Industry Associations (COSIA)
.
I find this article and what you have to say about DRDO, Tata Power and the Kalyani Group very heartening. It feels good to have someone thump his chest a bit like Baba Kalyani and justifiably so. I agree with him that Defence manufacture can become big in India and my interest is the downstream benefits for MSE's.

Have taken a bit of liberty in pinching the following points from your article with due credit to you and Business Standard.

"OF THIS AND THAT

Can we clap?

Indian engineers, who struggled for decades to design high-tech weaponry like the Tejas fighter and Arjun tank, are enjoying unusually quick success in developing what promises to be a world-class artillery gun. Bringing us the good news is Defence Expert Ajai Shukla in the Business Standard of 23rd October, 2017.

The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), which conceived and designed the 155-millimetre, 52-calibre ATAGS, has fed the design to Tata Power (SED) and the Kalyani Group. Based on those requirements, the two companies have built and are test-firing competing gun prototypes.

• At firing trials on September 4, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) of Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) fired 3 shells to a world-record 47.2 kms – three kms longer than contemporary guns.

• The next morning, a second ATAGS gun, which the Kalyani Group built according to a parallel development strategy, broke that record by achieving a range of just over 48 kms.

• The Kalyani Group has engineered a barrel and breech so good that the Tatas are using it in their gun as well. Its flagship company, Bharat Forge – the world’s largest forgings manufacturer – is a global leader in metallurgical expertise. Its exceptional range stems from its larger chamber – 25 litres, compared to 23 litres in similar guns. This allows the gun to be fired with more explosive, propelling the warhead further.

• Kalyani Group which has beaten ThyssenKrupp in its own backyard, is capable of being for India armaments industry what Krupp was to Germany. “India will become one of the largest producers of Military Hardware in the next 10-15 years says Baba Kalyani.

Check out this story for more details which will warm the cockles of your heart and fill you with justifiable pride at http://ajaishukla.blogspot.in/2017/10/metallurgy-skills-are-kalyani-groups.html "

Warm regards

Seshan Ranganathan