"This indicates that the army will be finally inducting the indigenous Bofors. We have already begun procuring material to meet this order" said MC Bansal, chairman of OFB, during a visit to National Academy of Defence Production (NADP). The institute trains officers joining the Indian Ordnance Factory Service (IOFS) cadre.
"We are confident that the guns will pass summer trials also, as there is no room for any doubt. This may be followed by a bulk order of more than 100 guns" said Bansal. So far, as many as 1,800 shells have been fired during the trials, which is probably the highest ever. There was one incident of barrel burst last year, but that was due to defective ammunition in the shell, and not because of the gun's design, Bansal stressed.
OFB is currently designing the 155:45 mm calibre guns, but work is also underway to develop 155x52mm guns, which would have a better range, said Bansal. The army is scouting the global market for the higher calibre guns. Though he did not specify a time frame for it, Bansal said that it is a gradual process and so far certain subsystems of the 155:52 mm howitzer have been developed.
Bansal said OFB will also soon put up carbine machine guns developed jointly with Defence and Research Development Organization (DRDO) for trials. Earlier, there were plans to develop the weapon with Singapore-based ST Kinetics, but the project could not take off following a commission scandal.
He said work on developing the indigenous assault rifle has also been put on the fast track. "There were stoppages during the firing trials conducted last month, but it is a part of product development, and will be come over" said the OFB chief.
At the same time, DRDO has been asked to make certain modifications in the multimodal hand grenade also planned to be manufactured by the ordnance factory. There were problems related to the timing of explosion once the grenade's pin is taken off, which has to be addressed before going ahead with bulk production, said Bansal.
On the government plans to have 100% FDI in the defence sector, he said OFB does not see it as competition, since certain components of strategic importance that do not pass economic feasibility will continue to be made in the ordnance factories.