File image of the OFB pavilion at DefExpo 2016 | Representational image | Twitter | @SpokespersonMoD
File image of the OFB pavilion at DefExpo 2016 | Representational image | Twitter | @SpokespersonMoD
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New Delhi: The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), one of the oldest state-owned production entities, has countered the findings of an internal Army assessment that held its “poor quality” equipment responsible for 27 fatalities and losses of Rs 960 crore to the exchequer. 

In a statement issued Wednesday, the OFB said only 19 per cent of the accidents involving defence ammunition between January 2015 and December 2019 could be attributed to the board. It based its claim on “defect investigations” carried out after such accidents.

Citing the same investigations, it added, only 2 per cent of the accidents with casualties could be attributed to the OFB.

The OFB, which functions under the Ministry of Defence’s Department of Defence Production, added that accidents are a complex phenomenon and can have multiple causes, such as poor gun maintenance, faulty firing drill, unvalidated design changes in the weapon, and faulty ammunition design. 

It also said the defect investigations are “seldom holistic”.

“The defect investigation is carried out by a committee headed by the Authority Holding Sealed Particulars (AHSP) which is the custodian of the manufacturing documents,” it said. 

“The committees include representatives of all the stakeholders including the user. The investigations carried out by these committees are seldom holistic in nature despite the fact that OFB has been insisting on such an approach,” it added.

The Army’s assessment, which came to light Tuesday, had highlighted its concerns with respect to the quality of OFB ammo and other equipment, while backing the government’s bid to corporatise the board — an initiative opposed by labour unions.


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‘Selective reportage’

The OFB said its own records showed that, between 2011 and 2018, there were more than 125 accidents involving ammunition procured from other sources, both domestic and foreign. 

“It is, however, seen that only cases where OFB ammunition is involved are selectively reported in the press,” the statement added.

The statement also emphasised that of the 27 fatalities cited in the Army assessment, 19 occurred in the 2016 accidental mine explosion at a depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. The accident, the board said, involved anti-tank mines that had been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, another government entity, and were manufactured strictly according to their design. “Design deficiencies were subsequently noticed and suitable changes are being evaluated,” it said.

The OFB also said most of these accidents involve vintage ammunition manufactured before 2006, when all input materials were inspected by the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) and the OFB had no control on their quality. 

There has been a decrease in the number of accidents since 2005-06, when the responsibility for inspection of input material was given to the OFB. Since 2013, it added, it instituted a new random sample-based check mechanism on freshly manufactured ammunition batches, in addition to the established procedure followed by the DGQA. 

“The results of this system have demonstrated a satisfaction level of more than 99 per cent which is comparable to international standards,” it said. “The quality of ammunition manufactured by the OFB is also amply testified to by the receipt of repeat export orders of ammunition supplied under self-certification.”

The statement also sought to counter the Army’s assessment on its claim that the money lost on “poor quality” OFB ammo and mines could have been used to buy 100 units of the 155 mm Medium Artillery gun.

“The same logic, if applied to the faulty Krasnopol ammunition imported during the Kargil war amounting to Rs 522.44 crore ($111,950,488) could have financed another 55 artillery guns,” it said.

The OFB was referring to the Krasnopol deal, cleared by the first NDA government during the 1999 Kargil conflict. The deal, signed with a Russian firm, involved the purchase of Krasnopol shells for Bofors artillery guns.

Despite failing high-altitude tests in the Kargil sector in 1999, around 1,000 Krasnopol shells were reportedly bought from Russia at a cost of Rs 151 crore and delivered in May 2000. Two years later, New Delhi reportedly contracted another 2,000 shells.


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9 Comments Share Your Views

9 COMMENTS

  1. I know many in OFB, incompetent, la,y and laid back attitude. OFB’s no zero defect and laid back attitude took 1900 lives in 1.5 years.

    Enough is enough. See Gaurav Arya’s video on OFB, they charge almost double for everything and half the quality.

    Immediately revamp or dismantle. Good step but take it strong. I know some Gandhi’s will join in support of employees but country is top priority.

  2. This is the height of indiscipline. Defence minister should tell this incompetent and corrupt OFB to shut up. If there are differences, they should be resolved internally, not give press releases. We know that all the PSUs are money guzzlers. OFB factories are worse than them. The ordenance factories exist for labour unions, nor for armed forces.

  3. Every body wants corporisation of defence equipment manufacturing. But where is experience in this regard. They may require foreign help or from experience of retired defence officers. Accident do happen with foreign/indigenous Ammunition.Then blame game starts.long investigation goes on for years. There is need of proper technical evaluation of these accidents and investigation are required. We have improve our Research and development. But in our country’s present political setup it is difficult to ensure discipline and in workers and unions. We have to study the Russian defence production methods and implement the same through for corporates.

  4. Big crooks!
    They should be disbanded and this job should be handed over to good civil firms. It’s the Army personnel who suffer their utter poor quality products! The weapons equipments and ammunition etc, which they make are utterly poor quality! Have a look at any of their item including the INSAS weapon or any other things! The worst they make for the Army!

    They are corrupt, inefficient and incompetent. Our generals also don’t bring out this point in the open and crucify these villains! Their INSAS weapon always in between firing, artillery barrels burst killing our own soldiers! I have served for more than 30 years in the Army and seen all this!

    They are far worse than most corrupt govt companies also. They should be brought under army and put senior officers in charge of them. Then only they may improve. Otherwise they need to be disbanded or corporatised. Indian Army should not be dependant on them for the utterly poor quality weapons and ammunition and equipment they make.!
    Otherwise it’s disaster for the country..

  5. Bloody idiots! They should be disbanded and this job should be handed over to good civil firms. It’s the Army personnel who suffer their utter poor quality products! The weapons equipments and ammunition etc, which they make are utterly poor quality! Have a look at any of their item including the INSAS weapon or any other things! The worst they make for the Army! They are corrupt, inefficient and incompetent. Our generals also don’t bring out this point in the open and crucify these villains! Their INSAS weapon always in between firing, artillery barrels burst killing our own soldiers! I have served for more than 30 years in the Army and seen all this!
    They are far worse than BSNL also. They should be brought under army and put senior officers in charge of them. Then only they may improve. Otherwise they need to be disbanded or corporatised. Indian Army should not be dependant on them for the utterly poor quality weapons and ammunition and equipment they make.! Otherwise it’s disaster for the country..

  6. This article looks as it has been sponsored by Ordance Factory Board and shows the hatchet job by this correspondent.Ordnance factories are well known for their inefficiencies and poor performance where unions rule.Corporatisation and privatization is the only answer

  7. OFB is making a case for self suicide. They are inefficient, unaccountable and noisy. They produce poor quality products which they noisily wish to justify.

  8. OFB claims have no base. Artillery is one story. If other Indian Armed Forces services speak up, they will have to make long explanations. It is time to revamp and not counter claims. What IA stated in just tip of iceberg. Its is in intrest of OFB to start working, else indian security forces will stop buying anything from you. OFB needs to show results and not be at mercy of MoD.

  9. While backing the government’s bid to corporatize the board — an initiative opposed by labor unions.
    Is the defense of this country going to be held to ransom by labor unions??
    The rot is very deep and complex this is what happens when you screw it up for decades.

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