OFB ready with new tank shell before Army changes target

OFB ready with new tank shell before Army changes target

The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has come up with an enhanced version of Russian T-90 tank ammunition even before the Army changes its mind saying it wants a better product that the factories are supplying now.

The OFB has already got orders from the Army to supply 125mm fin-stabilized armour-piercing discarding stabot (FSAPDS) shells. The current version has a capacity to pierce into steel plates of 460mm thickness that are put on the enemy tanks.

Sensing that the Army may soon demand a higher penetration, the OFB has a developed an ammunition that can rip into steel of over 500mm thickness. This comes at a time when the government is considering a case to corporatize the OFB with view to make it more competitive.

The OFB has recently finished supplying over 10,000 tank shells with 460mm piercing capacity. In a bid to continue getting indents, it has now come up with shells having piercing capacity of much beyond 500mm, said sources. Internal trials have been completed over a month ago and the product would be put up before the Army for its final appraisal. The production process takes place in ordnance factories across Vidarbha too.

Even though T-90 tanks have been purchased much earlier, the OFB got the transfer of technology (ToT) for making 125mm FSAPDS shells in 2015-16 from the Russian original equipment maker (OEM).

In line with the original requirement of 460mm capacity, the OFB has supplied over 10,000 shells made out of semi-knocked down material received from Russia. It is gearing up to make a similar number of shells out of completely knocked down (CKD) material. In the meantime, the Army also purchased over 90,000 shells, also of 460mm capacity, directly from Russia.

Sources said even as there has been no official communication from the Army, it has been known through some of the communication and including minutes that the Army may soon change the requirement, said highly placed sources. As the Army has invited request for proposal (RFP), from a whole gamut of ammunition the 125mm FSAPDS rounds were dropped as the piercing capacity was changed to over 500mm from 460mm, said a source.

“If the Army now wants to change the standards, why should it have placed an order for 460mm at all? The Army has also purchased a sizeable quantity from Russian manufacturers,” said a source.

Both T-90 and T-72 tanks, also purchased from Russia, use same ammunition. Even as the FSAPDS shell is also used in the T-72 tanks, the design made by the DRDO could not make its way into the Army. The production of the DRDO-designed shells was stopped nearly a decade ago following an accident, said a source.

(in a nutshell)

  • These are 125mm FSAPDS shells
  • Production of DRDO-designed shells was stopped after an accident 10 years ago
  • OFB got ToT from Russia in 2015-16
  • It has begun supplying shells of 460mm piercing capacity
  • Army should have decided on yardstick before placing orders

Source - TNN