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ATOR N1200 Special Vehicles and ATAGS

Indigenous JSW Group's ATOR N1200 SMV and DRDO's ATAGS howitzers fortify India's security

February 13, 2024 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By PIB, DRDO
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army


ATOR N1200 Special Mobility Vehicle displayed in Republic Day Parade 2024

On January 25, 2024, JSW Group, a Mumbai-based Indian leading conglomerate led by Sajjan Jindal and part of the OP Jindal Group, announced that it has entered the defence industry by acquiring a majority investment in Gecko Motors Pvt Ltd, which manufactures extreme off-road vehicles. Its subsidiary, JSW Defence and Aerospace, has acquired an interest in the company, which has been renamed JSW Gecko Motors Pvt Ltd (JSW Gecko).

The surprise was the ATOR N1200 specialist mobility vehicle moving down the Kartavya Path as part of the Republic Day Parade on January 26. According to the media reports, Copato Ltd of the United Kingdom has designed the ATOR N1200, an indigenous version of the SHERP N1200 amphibious extreme mobility vehicle; Copato has entered into a joint venture with JSW Defence and JSW Gecko, as well as a technology supply license agreement, to produce (assemble?) Specialist Mobility Vehicles in India.

JSW Gecko Motors Pvt Ltd (JSW Gecko) has secured an   order   worth   250 crore from the Ministry of Defence for the manufacturing and supply of 96 x Specialist Mobility Vehicles branded as ATOR N1200

However, SHERP was originally designed as Ukrainian Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) by SHERP Global, certified with international quality standards ISO 9001, headquartered in Kyiv (Ukraine). Its vehicles are sold all over the world through a wide dealership network including ARGO and STREIT Group. The key feature of SHERP vehicles is the large wheels with an onboard system to inflate or deflate them, which allows vehicles to travel through water, cross brushwood, scramble and climb up thin ice.

The Sherp all-terrain vehicle was based on a design developed in the late 2000s by Alexei Garagashyan of Saint Petersburg. Ukrainian entrepreneur Vladimir Shkolnik bought one of these and set up a design office in Kyiv to refine the concept and in 2014, organised production in St. Petersburg. In 2014, Sherp LLC (Russia) was established, which began serial production of snowmobiles in 2015. In March 2022, the Ukrainian company terminated the license agreement with Sherp LLC, which granted the Ukrainian company the right to use the Sherp LCC (Russia) trademark and patents. Same year, the company announced the SHERP N1200 modification intended for use in arctic climates, which is insulated, has closed windows with protective bars against polar bears, and is equipped with snow removal equipment and roof racks for luggage.

The Ministry of Defence is set to acquire 307 units of ATAGS howitzers to enhance operational readiness in frontier regions

In the instant case of the ATOR N1200 Special Mobility Vehicle displayed in Republic Day Parade 2024, according to a press release by the JSW Gecko founders, headed by Jaskirat Singh Nagra, the company has bagged an order worth 250 crore from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the manufacturing and supply of 96 x Specialist Mobility Vehicles branded as ATOR N1200. Talking about the development, JSW Gecko CEO Viktoria Tverdokhleb said, "We are pleased to have the opportunity to present to the Indian market, and especially to the defence sector, an unique, innovative and technologically advanced Specialist Mobility Vehicles that has no analogues in the world in terms of its capabilities and characteristics and has no competitors in the off-road ability and maneuverability."

Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)

As per the official release by JSW Gecko, the ATOR N1200 Specialist Mobility Vehicles are being manufactured at the company’s newly established production facility in Chandigarh, Punjab. The plan is to deliver these special mobility vehicles to the Armed Forces by June 2024.

Concurrently, the media reports of January 25, 2024 have intimated that the MoD is set to acquire 300 units of ATAGS howitzers to enhance the operational readiness of the Armed Forces in the frontier regions of Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, where India shares contentious borders with Pakistan and China. This was confirmed by Samir V. Kamat, Chairperson of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on January 25.

The ongoing standoff with China and the China-Pakistan anti-India nexus highlights the need to equip Armed Forces, with the Specialist Mobility Vehicles and ATAGS Howitzers

A statement issued by Kamat read: "The first order for 307 x Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) for deployment along the borders with China and Pakistan will be placed before the end of this fiscal year. Kamath has said that the 155-mm howitzer had successfully undergone all the necessary tests, with the maiden order for the weapon system expected to be placed by March 31. The 155mm artillery guns are another step towards indigenisation as these howitzers have been designed and developed by DRDO. The other Indian defence firms that have contributed towards the development of these howitzers were Bharat Forge Limited and Tata Advanced Systems Limited.

The ongoing standoff with China along the entire Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the China-Pakistan anti-India nexus, the Indian Armed Forces need to be on full alert and equipped to deal with the emerging threats. These 96 x Specialist Mobility Vehicles and the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) will certainly contribute towards the much needed equipping of the Indian Armed Forces.