Fulfilling Defence Indigenisation Dreams

By Editor 14-Jun-2018

The new Defence Procurement Procedures have set the tone for a fresh procurement regime to boost the ‘Make in India’ initiative in the defence sector. Make in India programme has opened a plethora of opportunities in the defence sector. As a result, India’s growth would gallop in the days to come. At the same time, ‘Make in India’ has made the defence sector competitive. OFB, however, would like to capitalise on these prospects to emerge as the single largest dependable indigenous source to our Armed Forces. OFB is following the same philosophy in line with the indigenisation policies of the Government of India, says S K Chourasia, DGOF and Chairman, OFB. In an interview with Aeromag, he speaks about how OFB strives to full India’s defence indigenisation dreams.

1. Could you talk about the latest products, weapons systems and equipment developed by OFB?

OFB’s mission is production of state-of-the-art battle field equipment. Approximately 22% of the turnover of OFB is from products developed indigenously by Ordnance Factories. OFB has taken pro-active approach and have identified certain Growth Driver Projects for target-oriented R&D. 61 products designed and developed by Ordnance Factories are in service with Indian Armed Forces.

The major products developed through in-house R&D are 155mm Artillery Gun ‘Dhanush’, Upgunning of 130mm Artillery Gun to 155 mm x 45, Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV) and Modernised Mine Protected Vehicle (MMPV), Bi-Modular Charge System (BMCS) for 155mm Artillery Ammunition, 7.62 x 39mm Assault Rifle ‘Ghaatak’, Chaff Launcher ‘Kavach MOD-II’ and Chaff, Naval Gun CRN-91, Under Barrel Grenade Launcher, among others. OFB is presently developing Upgraded BMP-II, Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV), Air Defence Gun and 155mm x 52 Cal Mounted Gun System and related ammunitions and Electronic Fuses. We have also developed prototype of 7.62X51mm Assault Rifle in a record time as per the requirement of the Indian Army, which is now undergoing trials.

OFB has successfully completed the user evaluation of 130/155 mm Upgunning, where it emerged as a single acceptable offer. OFB has offered a 100% indigenous solution as private competitors fielding imported equipment from leading world manufacturers in this field could not meet user requirements.

Till now, Electronic Fuses was not OFB’s core competence. Yet through grit and determination, OFB has developed Electronic Fuses to meet pressing demands of the Army. This item too has huge export requirements.

2. Achieving self-reliance through indigenisation of items and supporting Make in India programme are some of the key objectives of OFB. Could you talk about the various activities in this regard?

OFB has set high standards of indigenous manufacture and has achieved 88% overall indigenisation. Moreover, OFB has developed the indigenous defence industrial complex in the country by nurturing about 4,000 vendors keeping import substitution as our working mantra. To take these efforts further, OFB has offered more than 20 items for indigenisation in the recently concluded Defence-Industry Development Meet during 18-19th January 2018.

Make in India programme has opened a plethora of opportunities in the defence sector. As a result, India’s growth would gallop in the days to come. At the same time, ‘Make in India’ has made the defence sector competitive. OFB, however, would like to capitalise on these prospects to emerge as the single largest dependable indigenous source to our Armed Forces.

The organisation is moving forward to metamorphose as a Complete Combat Solution Provider. OFB is transforming from the role of manufacturer and technology recipient to a system integrator.

3. Could you share the details of OFB’s export business?

Ordnance Factory Board [OFB] started direct export since 1989, under the subject guidelines of MoD. Exports have been made to friendly foreign countries in concurrence with MEA. OFB has made sustained efforts to reach out to India’s extended neighbourhood in Central Asia, Middle East, and ASEAN countries. European and American hubs too were not off OFB’s export radar. A gamut of products – ranging from arms and ammunition, weapon spares, to chemicals, explosives and troop comfort items have been exported so far.  Through these multi-pronged activities, OFB has achieved an export turnover of Rs 190 Crores in 2017-18 and there are orders for Rs 250 crore. In the process, OFB has increased its export turnover by more than six times compared to last year. 

Export turnover is further likely to increase in the coming years after modernization and capacity augmentation. The market demand of OFB’s products has kept on increasing. For instance, Kavach Mod-II, CRN-91 Gun, Brake Parachute, Tetryl and Signal Fog etc. are in regular demand in the International market.

For civil trade market, OFB has taken initiative to increase the sale of 0.32 Pistol and 0.32 Revolver (NPB) by allowing the sale to be taken up through dealer-network apart from individual sales. For selling of 12 bore Pump Action Gun (PAG), OFB has already signed MoU with SBI and is also expecting orders from other PSUs.

Apart from being a pillar of Defence Production for the country since its inception, OFB’s products are geared up for the futuristic demands of the Armed Forces.

4. Please share some details about the modernization projects in OFB’s production facilities to enhance manufacturing? Are there any expansion plans?

Manufacturing of ammunitions & explosives is one of our core areas and involves lot of backward and forward integration. OFB not only meets the requirement of Armed Forces but also supplies arms & ammunition to the State Police Forces as well as Central Armed Police Forces.

Keeping in view the strategic requirements of enhancing India’s capacity of fighting a high intensity war, OFB considers it imperative to undertake a massive expansion plan not only in ammunition & explosive group of Factories but also for manufacture of hardware. Capacity is also being created in OFB for manufacturing 125 mm FSAPDS tank ammunition in collaboration with Russia.  Facilities of weapon manufacturing are being modernized to a world-class level to meet stringent requirement of Defence Forces. 

5.  Could you talk about the various initiatives of OFB to promote private participation in defence production? Please talk about the collaborations with private firms.

Defence industry is in a dynamic and evolving mode. Archaic processes and trappings of unnecessary regulations are being abandoned by the government. The mantra is ‘Make in India’ to transform our nation into a global design and manufacturing hub. And, the hallmark of the concept of ‘Make in India’ is public-private partnership. There is a need to develop a manufacturing eco-system with the help of MSMEs.

In the same trajectory, Ordnance Factories are eager to partner with Micro, Small and Medium Industries to leverage the maximum output for the defence preparedness of our Armed Forces and Security Agencies. OFB is participating in & organising various OFB-Industry meets/seminars to encourage & achieve the same; more specifically to interact with potential vendors and explore the avenues of outsourcing. In fact, the Ordnance Factories and vendors are cooperating in a symbiotic fashion on a range of issues.

In addition to supplying raw materials, components, assy/sub-assy, Import substitution, joint development of defence equipment and promoting exports of OFB manufactured items etc are large opportunities of business available for MSME vendors.

OFB is focussed on steps to ease business dealings with vendors. Various concerns of vendors regarding security deposits/PSD, payments, vendor registration, availability of testing facilities are being addressed. Ease of doing business with us has improved remarkably. Our factories have been authorized to issue sample of critical / perennial imported items of any value to promote ‘Make in India’. We are not charging any assessment fee for registration of a vendor for a manufacturing process which is already verified.

The new Defence Procurement Procedures have set the tone for a fresh procurement regime to boost the ‘Make in India’ initiative in the defence sector. The latest mantra is to speed up the procurement process with stress on self-reliance in defence production, favouring purchase of locally designed, developed and manufactured products. The idea is to have higher indigenisation content in the existing ‘Buy (Indian)’ and ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ schemes.

OFB is following the same philosophy in line with policies of the Government of India.

6.  Could you share your vision and priorities for OFB to fulfil its objectives and become the leader in manufacturing sophisticated battlefield equipment?

Backed by over 216 years of experience in defence production, OFB has got a comprehensive product range. OFB’s strength lies in the fact that it manufactures the entire system platform for a weapon, along with its ammunition and related accessories. For instance, the 12.7 mm Air Defence Gun Prahari – is manufactured together with its Armoured Piercing Incendiary (API) & API(Tracer) ammunition, with the Base & Depot spares.

Further, as OFB manufactures the 120 mm Arjun Main Battle Tank for the Indian Army, it also produces the High Energy Anti-Tank (HEAT), Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (FSAPDS), and the High Energy Squash Head (HESH) ammunition.

OFB products are made from Integrated state-of-the-art manufacturing that passes through rigorous quality standards. OFB is one amongst the top defence equipment producers in the world. End to end facilities spectrum cover production, testing, logistics, research, development & trade. With high degree of backward & forward integration and an ambitious modernisation plan, OFB's manufacturing capability is poised to take up challenges.

Be it Precision Machining, Metallurgy, Chemical, Ballistics, Armaments or Automobile, OFB is proud to have a wide range of technologies under one roof.