The Indian Ordnance Factories have been a strategic asset to the nation since their inception. These have played a pivotal and stellar part and significant role in the national security architecture by evolving, designing and producing a marked variety and long range of weapons, ammunition, equipment, apparatuses, clothings and other security related items to support and cordinate the efforts of the armed forces in performing and equipping them in the arduous task of defending our borders, especially those in the vicinity of our neighbouring inimical nations. The arms, ammunition and equipment in-house manufactured by the Ordnance Factories have for long equipped the armies of the East India Company, the British empire and the Indian Republic in their battles in India and the distant battlefields of Europe, Africa, China and other far-flung conflict zones. The contribution and progress of the Ordnance Factories have been significant in every civil disturbance, skirmish, battle and war. The role of their contribution to the World Wars has been lauded at the highest levels and has been hailed high at all forums.
With India making big strides on all fronts and with the emergence of “New India”, the role of Ordnance Factories as suppliers of arms & ammunition to Indian Armed Forces has only enhanced
Indian Ordnance Factories were the only organisation in the world which made the entire range of ammunitions from 5.56 mm to 155 mm and weapons from the 5.56 mm INSAS rifle to 155 mm x 45 calibre ‘Dhanush’ artillery gun system. At another level, the Metal and Steel Factory at Ishapore is the world’s largest manufacturer of weapons-grade steel from secondary sources.
The record of Indian Ordnance Factories
(OFs) for indigenisation is far better than the DPSUs. OFs are supplying the engines for T-72 and T-90 Tanks with 100% indigenous content to Indian Army. Indian Ordnance Factories have consistently displayed an exceptional record and indelible mark of absorbing manufacturing technologies from foreign OEMs. Products and variants of Indian Ordnance Factories have an indigenous content of 90% of their turnover, the highest compared to any DPSUs. With an indigenisation level of over 97% in ammunition items, Indian Ordnance Factories have almost negligible dependence on foreign countries. Ordnance Factories are a true example and proven precedent of “Aatmnirbhar Bharat”.
Role of OFs
Ordnance Factories have been the harbinger and hub of industrialisation in the country. These were the largest organised manufacturing industry within the country at the time of Indian independence. Ordnance Factories have been premier players and biggies in forging and foraying novice manufacturing technologies into the country, especially in special steels, chemicals and explosives.
- OFs are supplying the engines for T-72 and T-90 Tanks with 100% indigenous content to Indian Army
- Products and variants of Indian Ordnance Factories have an indigenous content of 90% of their turnover
- Indian Ordnance Factories grew to 41 units from 18 OFs at the time of independence
- Indian Ordnance Factories in the past have parcelled SA 7.62mm MAG HMG to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Indian Ordnance Factories in the past have despatched 155 mm ERFB BT Ammn and Primer M 191A2 to the United Arab Emirates
Pre-independence Ordnance Factories focused more on manufacturing consumables. Niteithstanding, post-independence, Ordnance Factories have worked towards developing capability in weaponary platforms. From 18 OFs at the time of independence, Indian Ordnance Factories grew to 41 units, including two projects, spread across the length and breadth of the country. Indian Ordnance Factories (popularly known as Ordnance Factory) Boards have retained internal vitality and innovation, namely the capacity to maintain a leadership and stewardship position in Land Systems Solutions. In this background, even today, the Army confides in and relies on Indian Ordnance Factories for meeting their capacity of deliverability, particularly in times of critical and crucial needs when it matters most.
Contribution during war times
Whenever our enemies dared attack India from the border, our brave soldiers, using arms and ammunition, weapons and tanks made in Ordnance Factories, retaliated and returned them a befitting and resounding reply. These have worked and performed from the Thar Deserts to the Himalayan glaciers, from the swampy marshes of the Kutch to the Gangetic Plains. The Valiant and gallant soldiers led by excellent military leaders delivered while the Elephant Indian Ordnance Factories backed them with requisite, matching and well equipped Guns, Mortars, Rockets, and ammunition, while the nation failed to get them from overseas in the interregnum of the operations.
The rationale of Ordnance Factories remains as the backbone and strategic base for the powerful and emergent India since 1802 AD. The Ordnance factories have ever stood by, supported and strengthened the Indian Armed Forces during its trying and pressing times of need. In all the post-1947 wars which India has fought and retorted, namely 1971 (with Pakistan) and 1999 (Kargil with Pakistan), Ordnance Factories have served as the backbone for reliable and matching supplies to Indian Armed Forces and their Armaments have performed remarkably, making India a winner. The supplies of the Ordnance Factories in the wars after 1947, from the Kashmir operations of 1948 to the icy heights of Kargil in 1999, had been a deciding factor, determining India’s feats.
Production of the “Dhanush” and “Sharang” medium gun systems, innovative improvement in BMP 2 and ammunition systems, among others, reflect the professional acumen and dedication of the officers and workers of the Ordnance Factories
For its contribution during the Kargil war, Indian Ordnance Factories won accolades from the then Chief of Army Staff and the Parliamentary Standing Committee. In the foreword to “Arming the Indian Arsenal”, former COAS Gen VP Malik, the General for Operations, claimed and commented, “Indian Ordnance Factories, which could produce ammunition and certain underlying equipments for which they had the necessary technology, rose to the occasion. Nonetheless, we confronted considerable problems in procuring items which had to be imported at a short notice.”
Name the Technology. Indian Ordnance Factories were fitted and equipped with those. Be it Precision Machining, be it Metallurgy, be it Chemical, be it Metrology, be it Ballistics, be it Armament and be it Automobile. Indian Ordnance Factories are proud and fervent to have a range of technologies under one roof. Thus, Ordnance Factories are engineers’ paradise. Indian Ordnance Factories are the largest suppliers to the Indian Army. Indian Ordnance Factories are well equipped and suffice as a provider of choice for intermediate chemicals, warheads and propellants used in Missile programs and advanced Aluminium alloys for Space programs. No wonder, Indian Ordnance Factories rank in the list of top Defence Manufacturers.
The Ordnance Factories have been the catalyst for many innovations in the defence manufacturing sector. The production of the “Dhanush” and “Sharang” medium gun systems, innovative improvement in BMP 2 and ammunition systems, among others, reflect the professional acumen and dedication of the officers and workers of the Ordnance Factories. These have matured as a premier, esteemed and prime mover for the success of the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government of India and evolved with the changing technologies and requirements of the Armed Forces.
On the export front, their contribution, although meagre, should not go unnoticed. Indian Ordnance Factories in the past have parcelled SA 7.62mm MAG HMG to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and expected to get orders for 155 mm ERFB BB Ammn 155 mm HE M107 Ammn, 105 LFG against Land Eqpt, Bullet Proof Jacket, Mine Protected Vehicle and Small Arms Ammunition, for which deliberations and coordination are progressing at advanced stage. Similarly, Indian Ordnance Factories in the past have despatched 155 mm ERFB BT Ammn and Primer M 191A2 to the United Arab Emirates and are envisaged to get orders for 155 mm ERFB BT Ammn, Primer M 191A2, TNT, Modified Mine Protected Vehicles and APC spares and upgrade. Moreover, Ordnance Factories in the past have supplied Cartg 14.5 mm ATA Nitro guanidine and hope to procure orders for 14.5 mm Training Ammn , RDX, nitrocellulose, small arms ammn, and artillery ammn.
With India making big strides on all fronts and with the emergence of “New India”, the role of Ordnance Factories as suppliers of arms & ammunition to Indian Armed Forces has only enhanced. In modern warfare, fast-changing of technologies are playing an increasingly important role. Ordnance Factories under the seven DPSUs are gearing up to cater to this modern-era warfare. Innovation, re-skilling and global presence is the key. The future will be bright with more dispensation and more entrepreneurial energy backed by the vast infrastructure and talented manpower; they will be playing a significant role in the emergence of New India.
To facilitate self-reliance in defence preparedness, new DPSUs would be required to equip Indian Armed Forces with Complex and Modern War-fighting Weapon Systems. With defence sector liberalisation, the recipient role of the new DPSUs as the captive producer has been changed, and this demands a high level of innovativeness and dynamism. New DPSUs are gearing up to show their strength of character by competing against any player through the parameters of cost, quality, delivery and technology sophistication for greater customer satisfaction in the delivery of reliable weapon systems so that Ordnance Factories assume the role of designer and integrator, enabling Indian Ordnance Factories to build a consortium of industries around them for product development and production in line with recommendations of various committees.