The state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) along with the Indian Army has developed an indigenous system to airlift the 105 mm light field gun (LFG) to mountain-posts, thereby circumventing the cumbersome procedure of transportation by road. The "Apparatus Airlift” has been developed by the Gun Carriage Factory of the OFB which developed the LFG as well.
The LFG, which can now be airlifted by the new equipment to mountain-posts, was developed in the 1980s and they are the largest number of howitzers deployed by the Indian Army. The 105 mm LFG have a range of less than 20 kilometers, half the range of the 155 mm howitzer guns. With the development of the "Apparatus Airlift”, the Indian Army can airlift these LFG and can do away with the transportation of the LFG on trucks. The equipment ensures that the LFG is lifted along its centre of gravity only to enable the stability of both the gun and the helicopter. The equipment has undergone considerable engineering to make it fool-proof since the slightest shortcoming can damage the equipment as well as the helicopter.
According to OFB, the indigenously developed equipment is only capable of helping airlift 105mm guns and OFB expects a big production order from the Indian Army. The 105mm LFG weighs around 2,100 kilograms, and the ultra light guns of 155mm calibre which the Army plans to purchase are almost double the weight. Indian Army will go for this equipment for airlifting 155mm ultra light guns along with the weapon.
Besides developing the airlift system, the OFB has also developed a mounted version of the 105mm gun which can be placed on a truck and fired. The mounted version assures greater mobility and the guns ability to fire while changing positions. The OFB has test-fired this mounted version of the 105 mm gun and expects the Indian Army to order for it as well.
State-run OFB has plans to invest close to $ 1.3 billion over the next five years to enlarge its manufacturing capacity in order to meet the growing needs of the Indian army. According to OFB Chairman Mr. Dinesh M.Gupta, there are 39 manufacturing facilities of the OFB in India and two more factories are coming up besides the expansion of several others. The Indian Army accounts for 80 per cent of the OFB order-book. OFB has registered about 30 per cent growth in its turnover to $ 2.44 billion in 2010-11.