Ammunition Related Incidents: Machines in Ordnance Factories need to be modernised urges a former general

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Published: May 15, 2019 4:12:16 PM

Indian Ordnance factories have long been in the business of manufacturing munitions for the armed forces and there are countries which look upon India with great confidence to set up their ammunition factories.

Ammunition Related Incidents, Ordnance Factories, Lt Gen Anil Ahuja, Ordnance Factory Board, Ministry of Defence“Ammunition” is the actual weapon of the soldier and loss of confidence in indigenous munitions amongst soldiers is a matter of serious concern, says Lt Gen Anil Ahuja. (Representational image: PTI)

The machines in the Ordnance Factories need to be modernised and re-skilling of the personnel working on the machines need to be addressed on urgent basis by the government, urges a former army general. “Ammunition” is the actual weapon of the soldier and loss of confidence in indigenous munitions amongst soldiers is a matter of serious concern, says Lt Gen Anil Ahuja.

Indian Ordnance factories have long been in the business of manufacturing munitions for the armed forces and there are countries which look upon India with great confidence to set up their ammunition factories.

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However, according to Ahuja, “Our Ordnance Factories with legacy machines and practices are modernising only incrementally. The state of art, multi-operation and high-speed manufacturing machinery, which ensure consistency in quality have been slow in coming and the re-skilling of personnel has been even slower. This needs to be addressed with utmost urgency.”

Concurrently, now with the change in government policies of granting explosive licences to private industry, some modern state of art ammunition factories need to be set up in the private sector to complement the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) efforts, he suggests.

“Due to our substantial self – reliance in this sphere, it has also been our endeavour to import the required major weapon systems like tanks, field and air defence Artillery guns and even small arms which can fire indigenously manufactured ammunition.”

According to him, loss of lives of trained soldiers and damage to expensive weapon systems cannot be allowed to persist amidst the blame game between the manufacturers and the users. Addressing this need to be a priority agenda for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), he opines.

In recent years, however, due to numerous accidents at the field firing ranges and during trials, there is an of erosion faith in the indigenous ammunition. The field firings carried out to instil faith and confidence in the weapon and ammunition are becoming self-defeating.

“The OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) who bring their weapons for trials are also becoming weary of the safety and consistency of the OFB manufactured ammunition. This is a cause of serious concern which needs to be reversed urgently,” he urges.

The former general says, “It is a pity that rather than putting our heads and shoulders together to address this problem of national concern, the blame is sought to be shifted between poor material, manufacturing defects, problems of storage, improper maintenance, improper handling of ammunition and weapons, reasons which span across OFB, the storage depots, the users and the weapons!”

Let us, as professionals, appreciate that military munitions need to `ruggedized’ and should inherently be capable of withstanding rough handling and storage conditions to a substantial extent. Eradicating the cause or a combination of causes need to be an urgent joint endeavour under the aegis of the MoD, he adds.

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