On a high growth path

Print edition : August 26, 2011

D.M. Gupta: The year 2010-11 has been a year of achievement, of success and of satisfaction. - BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Interview with D.M. Gupta, Chairman, Ordnance Factory Board.

D.M. GUPTA has been the Director-General and Chairman of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) since January 1, 2011. The Stockholm Peace Research Institute lists the OFB as one of the top 50 defence manufacturers in the world. It has a turnover of approximately $2.5 billion and employs nearly 100,000 employees.

D.M. Gupta joined Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS) in 1974 after graduating from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. In a career spanning over 37 years, Gupta made significant contributions to manufacturing, plant maintenance and supply chain management at ordnance factories. He has led from the front at the ordnance factories in Bolangir (Orissa) and Medak (Andhra Pradesh). He has been Member/Weapons, Vehicles & Equipment at the headquarters in Kolkata and Additional DGOF, Armoured Vehicle headquarters at Avadi (Chennai).

What is the role of the Indian Ordnance Factories organisation in the defence sector?

The Indian Ordnance Factories is the largest departmental industrial organisation that fulfils the land system needs of the armed forces and paramilitary forces. We manufacture a wide array of lethal and non-lethal defence hardware for achieving self-reliance in defence preparedness. Over the years, the OFB has developed valuable skills and strengths in terms of fully integrated multi-technology capabilities; core competencies in the production of ammunition, vehicles, artillery equipment, explosives and small arms; and a vast pool of skilled human resources.

We have the capability to stretch ourselves in war time, which makes us the most dependable and reliable supplier for the armed forces. We are indeed the force behind the forces.

How will you rate the OFB's corporate performance for the financial year 2010-11.

Year 2010-11 has been a year of achievement, of success and of satisfaction. All previous records have been surpassed, the faith and confidence of stakeholders have been restored, and there is a sense of pride and satisfaction in all our employees. The OFB achieved an issue value of Rs.11,232 crore during the year as against Rs. 8,715 crore during 2009-10. For the first time, supplies of more than Rs.1,000 crore were given to paramilitary forces. A record number of T-90S tanks, Pinaka rockets, light field guns (LFGs), mine-protected vehicles (MPVs), and ammunition items have been supplied.

This high growth path is set to continue. The OFB's order book is full and there is a high demand for its traditional products. Further, the OFB will be taking up the production of many new products such as new-generation assault rifles, the CQB carbine, Smerch rockets, Grad rockets, and latest generation artillery guns and ammunition through technology transfer. In view of the increased demand, the OFB is augmenting its production facilities.

How is the OFB contributing to the goal of achieving self-reliance in defence preparedness?

The ordnance factories play an important role in the indigenisation of defence products. The OFB's commitment to self-reliance can be seen in the significant jump in turnover. Thus, we help the nation attain self-reliance through higher output from indigenous sources and the manufacture of a range of new products. We have also tried to limit the import content at 10-15 per cent, which is much less than that of any other indigenous industry manufacturing defence products.

SMALL ARMS OF 7.62 MM calibre-

We have started the indigenous production of T-90 tanks, the main battle tank (MBT) Arjun, armoured ambulances, Pinaka rockets and MPVs. We have successfully come up with many new products. Among them are the commanders' thermal imaging night sight for the T-72 tank, the driver night sight for the BMP-II, the indigenous barrel for the T-90 tank and the MPVs, and bullet-proofing of vehicles.

How do you solve customers' problems?

I will give an example. The Directorate of Artillery [Indian Army] had given an order for the development of an apparatus to airlift 105 mm LFGs, mostly deployed in hilly terrain. The Ordnance Development Centre, Gun Carriage Factory [Jabalpur] developed this equipment called apparatus air lift in a short time. It can lift the gun as an underslung load, and can be adapted for use on the Air Force's MI-17 helicopters and the Navy's Sea King. This apparatus will help improve the operational efficiency of the armed forces. Recently, we made a platform for the AN-32 aircraft to help improve the logistics of the armed forces.

What is the OFB's contribution to the strengthening of the country's internal security?

Considering the volatile internal security situation, there is a high demand for the MPV and its variants. The vehicle is protected by armour plates and can withstand a TNT [trinitrotoluene] blast of 14 kg under its belly. This vehicle has been supplied to the Army, the paramilitary forces and the State police forces. The OFB has even exported 100 MPVs. It is now undertaking a project to develop a platform that can sustain a more powerful TNT blast. The OFB is setting up a manufacturing facility in Jabalpur besides the one in Medak.

Our supply to the paramilitary forces has been increasing. There has been a jump in the supply of light machine guns (LMGs), mortars, rocket launchers, pump action guns, pistols and revolvers to them.

Similarly, marine security has got a boost, thanks to the indigenous 30 mm CRN 91 gun and 12.7 mm Prahari. The CRN 91 with a stabilised pedestal fitted on Navy and Coast Guard ships has been developed by OF - Medak.

Has the OFB provided any new product for the civil market recently?

The Small Arms Factory in Kanpur has introduced a new long-barrel premium revolver named Anmol' with many improved features over the current 0.32 bore version Mark-III. It has a longer range than the Mark-III and weighs just 100 grams more. This weapon was launched recently in the Indian market and comes under the non-prohibited bore (NPB) category.

What are the OFB's latest initiatives?

Many initiatives have been taken to improve transparency in our functioning. A new Material Procurement Manual was introduced on April 1, 2011. To reap the advantages of technology, e-procurement has been implemented. The OFB is embarking on a major modernisation programme which will help it adopt safer production processes and achieve improved productivity, consistency in quality and reduction in costs. The firepower of a tank is its ability to destroy targets on the battlefield while on the move. It is determined by the main armament calibre, projectiles' piercing capability, characteristics of armament laying mechanisms, sights, aimed firing rate, ammunition loading speed, available ammunition types and quantity of vehicle-borne ammunition, including machine-gun ammunition.