New Delhi. 18 March 2020. Ordnance Factories are observing their 219th foundation day today. The first Ordnance Factory, now known as the ‘Gun and Shell Factory’ at Cossipore in Kolkata was established on this day in 1801. The Ordnance Factories are a conglomerate of 41 ordnance factories under the aegis of its corporate headquarters Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) in Kolkata. The OFB came into existence on April 2, 1979 in the new avatar.
Since their inception, the Ordnance Factories have evolved as one of the largest defence manufacturing conglomerates in the world with more than 90 per cent of indigenous content and a strong technological and R&D infrastructure that currently contributes to 25 per cent of the revenue.
At the DefExpo 2020 held at Lucknow in February, the OFB launched the up-gunned version of the 1950’s vintage Russian 130mm to 150X45 calibre known as ‘Sharang’. The highlight of the previous year was the handing over of ‘Dhanush’ 155 X 42 artillery gun system to the Army. In addition, a number of products such as electronic fuzes; 40mm under Barrel Grenade Launcher Ammunition; 5.56 X 30 mm Joint Venture Protection Carbine (JVPC) alpha version; the 7.62 X 51 mm belt fed light machine gun (LMG) were also launched this year.
The OFB is currently developing many critical weapon systems with cutting edge technologies. Prominent among these is the upgraded BMP II, an infantry combat vehicle (ICV). With technologies such as advanced target tracking and a new fire control system, ICV will be equipped with missile firing capability. This upgrade will considerably extend the life of the existing BMP IIs. The Ordnance Factories are also developing the futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV) which will be the successor of the upgraded BMP II. The OFB plans to have the prototype ready by mid-2021.
In the field of artillery, 155 X 52 Mounted Gun System (MGS) has been developed and it is undergoing internal validation trials. Another achievement is the successful trial of 155 X 52 barrels and the related breech mechanism by a global major. These barrels are at par with those manufactured in Europe. The OFB has also developed the Commander Thermal Imaging (TI) sights to enhance the night fighting capability of T-72 and T-90 tanks.
A majority of the R&D work being carried out by the Ordnance Factories is in collaboration with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and premium institutes such as the IITs. The OFB has entered into an agreement with IIT Madras to develop Centre of Excellence for Ammunition at the institute that will power the development of futuristic ammunition such as precision guided ammunition. The OFB has also signed an MoU with the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) for advanced research.
The Ordnance Factories have been catering to the needs of the Armed Forces for more than two centuries by providing them with arms, ammunition and equipment and will continue to so in future.