With the rising demands of the Indian Armed Forces, the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) will be hiking its production capacity as well as instilling greater technology into their products to make itself a substantial contributor to the defence sector. The recent spur in the demand of armoured vehicles, spares and other crucial equipment has led OFB to initiate augmentation projects to the tune of $ 224 million which will entail the deployment of greater manpower as well as new facilities.
According to the Indian Defence Ministry, the augmentation projects will revolve around mine-protected vehicles, armoured vehicle engines, T-72 tank variants as well as spares for T-72 overhauls. Besides this, projects for the Pinaka rocket, high calibre weapon systems, T-90 tanks, BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles and Arjun main battle tanks worth about $ 1.34 billion are also expected to be routed through OFB.
The OFB has envisaged a plan to modernize its facilities during the next five years with an investment of close to $ 3.3 billion which will incorporate the induction of advanced technology, increased production facilities, additional manpower to the tune of 8,000 as well as an online management system. Earlier this year, Director-General and Chairman of OFB, D.M. Gupta had said that the extensive modernisation and infrastructure plan in all of its 39 odd factories across the nation was forwarded to the Defence Ministry.
OFB plans to be at the forefront of the Futuristic infantry soldier system (F-INSAS) programme which is designed to equip Indian infantry soldiers with most modern weaponry and equipment, including an advanced lightweight rifle, GPS receiver, helmet-mounted night-vision devices and handheld computers. Other modernization programmes of artillery, shells, rifles, grenades and ATGMs will also feature in OFBs agenda. This investment will help it to set up two new manufacturing facilities as well as upgrading existing ones. Besides, a 30 per cent increase in production of various types of ammunition has been witnessed during the last financial year.
Meanwhile, OFB has been increasing its production output and has recorded a 29 per cent hike in its turnover which amounted to $ 2.5 billion in the year 2010-11. OFB credits this hike, the highest ever in the factories, to the launch of new equipment as well as private sector participation. Between 2007 and 2010, the quantum of defence production made by OFB was $ 4.56 billion.
It has been felt that long-term requirements of the Indian Armed Forces are substantially higher than the present production level of the OFB and the modernization of OFB to augment its capabilities through its plants and machinery is inevitable. Presently, OFB’s 40th factory is coming up in Nalanda in Bihar. OFB also intends to usher in new technology for creation of arms and ammunition in the light of the fact that most arms and ammunitions in the Armed Forces are outmoded.